The role of governor has changed dramatically over the past 10 years; add to the mix the transition from governor to trustee and it’s hardly surprising that academies struggle to recruit those with the right skills and desire to contribute their knowledge and experience. Jill McCall, school business management consultant, gives us insight into a potentially tricky situation
The era of school funding feeling relatively predictable is well and truly over and strategic financial planning – along with the necessity to make tough decisions – is likely to leave those on finance committees somewhat scared and nervous. The role of governor is very different to the role of trustee and all too often I see the trustees of newly formed (and even some well-established) academies paddling around in a quagmire of confusion, lack of direction and financial uncertainty.
When a school becomes an academy there are significant changes to finance. I sometimes see a desire to mirror what was there before – to minimise change and reduce disruption – but the financial year changes and so must the annual meeting timetable along with it; committee structures might need to reflect new structures and, as financial responsibilities change, so do finance systems and reporting formats.
There’s an expectation that, amongst the new trustees, there’ll be someone with professional qualifications or significant financial experience who’ll understand cash flow forecasts, accruals and prepayments, debtors and creditors, management accounts and balance sheets. For SBMs, feeling confident that headteachers and trustees understand and will challenge financial information is essential to feeling that accountability is shared and sits at the right levels.
What can be done to help ease the transition?