Tuesday, 15 March 2011

School improvement that will last: Resources

School improvement that will last

In the last of four articles setting out the principles of 'joined-up governance', Ann Holt and Stephen Adamson complete their look at ways in which governors can work to bring about lasting improvement in their schools


Where resources are insufficient or badly deployed then instead of progress or change you get frustration.

Even without an economic squeeze, the amounts given to schools are not generous and require careful stewardship. Furthermore, funding does not all come in one pot; getting extra money often depends on the school making a case for it and that in turn calls for a sense of purpose and clear strategic thinking. The governing body is the normal arena for such thinking.

Since staffing takes at least 85% of the budget in most schools, it is crucial that the expenditure on this item is carefully monitored. You have a considerable range of ways of increasing the pay of individuals. However, decisions should not be made piecemeal but in the context of your school's pay policy and staffing structure. In considering these discretions, you can use information from the performance review statements, in the following ways:

Up to threshold (ie, up to the highest point on the teachers' main pay scale) teachers can expect an annual increment if their performance is satisfactory. Double increments may be awarded for exceptional performance evidenced by a performance review.

Teachers who have reached the threshold and want to move to the upper pay spine have to apply. They are assessed by their headteacher, using evidence from performance reviews. If the head decides they should be moved across the threshold, the headteacher asks the governing body to do so.
Performance also forms part of the evidence where schools are considering moving post-threshold teachers up to Excellent Teacher status, giving a Teaching and Learning Responsibility position or recommending that a teacher become an Advanced Skills Teacher.

It is usual for the governing body to give the head and senior management team a fair amount of discretion over spending, within defined boundaries that are linked to the school's priorities. When a major investment is to be made, such as in technology or a new reading scheme, this should be discussed at governor level (either full governing body or finance committee). It is appropriate for you to want to know subsequently how effective such an investment has been when it comes to judging progress.

The reason for setting a budget linked to the school development plan is to ensure that resources are targeted efficiently and effectively to maintain the quality of education provided and improve standards. Budgeting is not just about balancing the books.

Budgeting becomes linked to development planning when you ask these sorts of questions:

What do we need to do to raise the quality of our educational provision?

What is our financial provision?

What do we need to spend this year and in the future?

What are our options?

What will the budget look like in the next two years?

The material in this article has been drawn from Joined-up Governance by Jane Martin and Ann Holt, revised edition 2010, Adamson Publishing and first published on the School Governor Update from www.school-governor-update.com

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