The Governing Board’s Role in Financial Planning

Governing boards have three core functions as defined by the Department for Education in its Governance Handbook 2017:

  • ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction;
  • holding executive leaders to account for the educational performance of the organisation and its pupils, and the performance management of staff; and
  • overseeing the financial performance of the organisation and making sure its money is well spent.

The three functions overlap and cannot be viewed in isolation.

All governing boards need a vision and strategy – setting out where they want the organisation to be in three to five years’ time. A board cannot be using its resources well if its budget hasn’t been structured to meet its vision and strategic priorities. The strategic plan for the school should be fully resourced – it’s all very well saying we’re going to climb Mount Everest next year, but totally unachievable if you haven’t identified a person to lead the expedition, trained everyone and provided the necessary equipment.

Strategic planning

Knowing where you want to be is important but so is knowing how to get there. Putting the right resources in place is an essential part of this; without the right resources, a strategic plan is just words.

Here’s where the annual draft budget comes in. The draft budget should be accompanied by a detailed commentary, written especially for the governing board. It should explain why the school business manager and headteacher are proposing the level of expenditure they are and how this fits with the strategic priorities.

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