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Academies struggle to manage finances says SAGE

A survey of more than 500 education professionals throughout the UK has revealed the pressures on schools moving to academy status

Posted by Stephanie Broad | October 07, 2016 | Law, finance, HR

Of those interviewed, 50% of the professionals working in academies said they now have more freedom over their budget. But importantly, 35% still say the single greatest challenge is managing finances and budgeting and more than a quarter reported that they don’t have the right tools to manage those finances.

The research was conducted by Sage, the market leader for integrated accounting, payroll and payment systems, in a bid to explore the challenges and opportunities schools face in independently managing their finances.

Increased accountability is another consequence of schools moving to the academy model. One respondent commented: “It’s about budgeting, tendering and decision-making without support from the local authority. You’re totally accountable for all procedures and actions taken at a local level and must cope with the consequences.”

What’s more, the pressure placed on resources in schools has led to 70% of the head teachers and 78% of the deputy head teachers surveyed reporting that they spend up to a quarter of their working week managing their school’s finances. In addition, 68% say that since becoming an academy they are under more pressure to cut costs.

The most critical point is ensuring schools have the right support and technology to enable them to continue to put the best interest of the pupils first - Mike Rohan, Sage for Education Business Development Manager

While this survey highlights that there are still significant challenges with the transition to academy status, there is also a positive impact. For instance, 53% of all survey respondents reported that improved financial management would enable them to provide better facilities and equipment for students, while 30% said it would improve the quality of education. 

Since 2010, the number of academies has risen dramatically; a move that was introduced to give schools greater control over their operations, curriculum and management.

Mike Rohan, Sage for Education Business Development Manager said: “The survey results clearly demonstrate that there are a significant number of areas where schools need support to benefit from the positives the academy model can bring. 

“The most critical point is ensuring schools have the right support and technology to enable them to continue to put the best interests of the pupils first and for the management of finances to not negatively impact that.

“At Sage this is exactly what we are keen to do; free organisations from the administrative burdens they face so they can do what they do best and use awesome technology to help them realise their ambitions.”

For further insight, and to find out what schools can do to make their transition to an academy more efficient and effective, get the full report, The Future of Finance in Education, at  www.sage.co.uk/educationguide

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