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5 things to do in the autumn term

Finance Director Hayley Dunn shares her must-do tasks for the autumn

Complete staff reviews

Complete staff performance management reviews and agree which pay increases will be recommended for approval. Set out any expectations to managers in terms of the performance management cycle. Agree and set targets for the year with individual members of staff, ensuring the targets are specific, measurable and achievable. Discuss and plan professional development opportunities. Professional development doesn’t have to mean a course, which can be costly. If

your CPD budget is small then look at providing it in other ways, such as purchasing a subject-relevant book and setting challenge questions to help individual(s) reflect on how implementing strategies could improve their own practice.

Seek free school meal registrations

Ensure that as many pupils as possible who are eligible for free school meals are registered. Consider offering a small incentive for completing the process: for example, a free item of uniform or an age-appropriate reading book.

A small gesture that is useful to the pupil can be hugely beneficial in securing additional funding for the school to better support those pupils’ needs.

Monitor budgets

Undertake a review of your financial position by completing a budget monitoring exercise, identifying potential cost pressures and any underspends. Does your fundraising strategy need reviewing and updating? Look at opportunities for income generation, such as evening

events that can be put together with the support of your parent group, or submitting grant bids for projects that you would like to put into action during the following year. If you are interested in running a crowdfunding campaign, there are some brilliant step-by-step guides available at funded.org.uk/crowdfunding.

Plan for the change in seasons

As the nights draw in and the temperature lowers, our energy levels and motivation can start to drain. For many of us it is dark when we leave for work and dark again by home time. And the end of the autumn term can mean lots of activities. Take steps to help the wellbeing of staff and pupils – for example, replenishing salt stocks following last winter’s snow fall and arranging wellbeing activities. Some schools offer a free flu vaccination for staff. Arrange a wellbeing day, with activities available for staff and provide them with support and guidance. Alternatively, try a weekly initiative, for example a ‘wellbeing Wednesday’, ‘fruity Friday’, ‘motivation Monday’ or ‘thoughtful Thursday’!

Implement your plans

If you took my advice in the summer issue of FundEd Magazine, then you will have spent time preparing a marketing plan, a fundraising plan and/or a business improvement plan. Set out your expectations early in the term, take action, then monitor and record your progress. For example, say you were having a waste management issue. You may have tried to resolve the issues with the supplier, but when this was unsuccessful you decided to re-tender for the contract. These changes led to a reduction in the cost of ‘x’ and improvements in service provision. If the plans are not working as you anticipated, do not be afraid to adjust them – part of our skills as leaders is being agile in the way we lead and manage!

Looking ahead

We’ve made a lot of progress over the past 18 months but we also feel that we’re just getting started and recognise there is a lot more we can do to support schools.  Over the next year, we have an ambitious programme of activity including:

  • Widening the covers we offer alongside the highly rated risk protection arrangement (RPA)
  • Improving digital access to our help and support services and deals 
  • Developing the schools buying hubs nationally pending successful pilot 
  • Increasing our range of recommended deals that meet schools’ needs.

Finally, we want to make sure that our offer is meeting the needs of your school so we want to give you and your schools the opportunity to be actively involved and help us to shape and deliver these improvements. If you would like further information, have any questions, would like to know about the latest deals, or how you can get involved, please search ‘buying for schools’ on gov.uk or contact us at schools.commercial@education.gov.uk.

About our expert

Hayley Dunn is Business Leadership Specialist for ASCL. She is a Fellow of the ISBL, avid Twitter user: @ShropshireSBM, and blogs at ShropshireSBM.org



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