The Chancellor’s Autumn statement provided a welcome surprise for school budgets when he announced an extra £2 billion in cash, representing a four per cent rise in the core schools budget in each of the next two years.
How far the money will go remains to be seen. With so many pressures on school funding, including further rises in energy costs on the horizon, Jeremy Hunt’s rabbit out of the hat is unlikely to divert schools away from their focus on efficiency savings. Making existing budgets go as far as they can will remain very much a priority.
The overall financial climate is also likely to make standalone academies and LA maintained schools continue to think seriously about joining established MATs.
Government policy has been urging schools to adopt that thinking since the last schools white paper was unveiled in Spring 2022, with all schools expected to be in a strong MAT by 2030.
But academy trust expansion can’t happen if the systems and processes it uses to manage its employees aren’t scaled up in readiness for the complexity that comes with more schools and more employees.
It’s a big challenge and one that is backed up by findings from Strictly Education’s recent MAT Leaders’ Survey. This survey showed that more than one in three of the MAT leaders who took part in the survey were concerned about their capacity and resources to add new schools.
And as staffing costs account for the vast majority of school budgets, streamlined HR, payroll and pensions systems are likely to play an increasingly important part in enabling the sustainable and strategic growth of academy trusts.
A market-leading system will save money, save time and help inform a trust’s people strategy – and pave the way for growth. But changing to a new system requires key stakeholders to embrace change. And that means that academy trust leaders need to be able to present the strongest possible business case for investment in such a system.
Strictly Education’s new e-guide, Preparing a business case for investing in a new HR, payroll and pensions system, provides guidance in the form of seven steps outlining how to prepare and present the business case for such a system.
The concise e-guide includes tips on how to set out a case for change, explain the return on investment, flag up the risks of not investing, and show how a solution will be aligned to your trust’s goals and visions.
The e-guide also sets out how adopting these streamlined systems can produce a range of benefits for different leadership roles within an academy trust, including the CEO, CFO and school business manager.