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NASBM report says 'simple efficiencies' can save millions

Study claims small changes could save the education sector millions and reduce admin costs by up to 20%

Posted by Stephanie Broad | May 14, 2016 | Law, finance, HR

The National Association of School Business Management (NASBM) has released a new report that suggests all state-funded schools, even those previously considered ‘efficient’, have the ability to make further savings. The landmark report is well timed as schools start to cope with the tighter funding regime.

The report, Guidance for Improving School Financial Outcomes, which was part sponsored by Optimus Education, found that even small administrative changes – such as using existing resources more prudently and implementing better time management and staff training – could result in savings of up to 20% on administration costs. 

Launching the report, NASBM Chief Executive Stephen Morales, said: “This represents a real opportunity for school business leaders to look at new and innovative ways to make the most of their resources and target funding to the front line. The analysis we commissioned shows that by making modest changes to legacy processes and practice, schools can make significant savings.

“Despite a real-terms reduction in education funding and a bulge in the student population, schools are still required to demonstrate ongoing improvements in pupil attainment. School leaders are facing some really tough operational challenges. However, through careful planning, appropriate processes and well-executed strategies, this paper demonstrates how you can get the balance between efficiency and effectiveness right.

“By making subtle changes, important savings are within the reach of most schools.”

Guidance for Improving School Financial Outcomes was researched and written by Oxford-based consultants OEE Consulting, who analysed strategies employed by Backwell School, an Outstanding school, already measured as performing highly in a range of administrative areas.

OEE identified where the school was making significant savings compared to other schools and then found areas where other savings could be made. Areas they analysed included leadership time, business management, operations management, planning, performance management, process management and continuous improvement.

Wendy Farrier, School Business Manager at Backwell School, said: “When we agreed to take part in the study I was confident that we were taking every measure available to be efficient. The changes OEE suggested seemed small and obvious so we were surprised how much money they represented and how easy they were to implement.”

The report chimes with the message from the Childcare and Education Minister, Sam Gyimah MP, who has said: “For schools to deliver the high standards we expect of them, they must start from a position of strong financial management.”

Budget-saving changes schools are encouraged to make include:

  • Joining with other schools for procurement to make bulk orders, driving down costs;
  • Training senior leaders to improve their financial acumen and enabling them to make more efficient purchasing decisions;
  • Introducing improved cash management and payment processes;
  • Making better use of non-teaching time by reducing the amount of time staff spend on meetings and cutting unnecessary email traffic;
  • Making the most of technology by refreshing old hardware and reducing print and copy costs.

NASBM’s guidance is available to all schools and can be downloaded from the website:

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