10 top tips for maximising your school budget

In this blog, Kim Cannon, an education finance consultant, offers 10 top tips for maximising school budgets. From reviewing staffing structures to switching energy suppliers, these strategies aim to enhance financial efficiency and improve educational outcomes for pupils.


According to an article by The Guardian, school leaders describe the struggle to make budgets stretch to cover soaring energy costs, growing wage bills and inflation. With school purse strings tighter than ever before, every aspect of a school budget requires careful consideration and planning as it's vital for schools to make the most of the funds available to them. 

In this blog post, written by one of our expert education finance consultants, Kim Cannon, we'll explore 10 top tips for maximising your school budget. These tips will help you make the most of your school finances and achieve optimal school outcomes. 

Who sets the school budget? 

Headteachers play a key role in the budget-setting process, assessing expenditures to date, identifying areas for school development, and allocating funds accordingly. With most of the budget allocated to staffing costs, effective deployment of resources is essential for achieving equitable workload distribution and maximising efficiency. 

The timeline and process of school budgeting   

School budgeting is crucial as it involves intricate planning and resource allocation. The timing and process of school budget planning vary between maintained schools (directly funded by local authorities) and academies (independent state-funded schools).  

Maintained schools operate on a financial year aligned with the calendar year, running from April to March, whereas Academies' financial year corresponds to the academic year.  

Consequently, the timing for headteachers to start planning for the next year's budget varies, with some beginning to consider budget details at the end of the autumn term. Budget allocation typically sees staffing costs, including salaries, pension contributions, and national insurance, comprising a significant portion, around 70-80%, of school budgets. Additionally, funds are allocated to areas such as buildings and maintenance, learning resources, catering supplies, and cleaning.  

Once the overall budget is set, it is broken down into cost centres, with different leaders within the school responsible for specific areas. For instance, the office manager may oversee cost centres related to cleaning, repairs, and maintenance, while curriculum leaders manage those associated with teaching and learning. Leaders make decisions on fund allocation within their cost centres, ensuring practical spending and effective resource utilisation.  

10 top tips  

To make the most of your school's budget and improve financial efficiency, here are the top 10 tips Kim recommends all schools should consider:  

1. Review staffing structure: As aforementioned, staff are a school’s most valuable but expensive resource; the emphasis should be on effective deployment in order to share the workload more evenly.  

2. Utilise a bid-led process for curriculum spending: This will encourage your budget holders to think ahead about what resources they need to deliver the curriculum for the next academic year.  

3. Review contracts annually: Have an Annual Contracts Listing containing all relevant contract information, including the end date, review date that gives time for new quotes to be obtained, and final ‘give notice’ date. Time is money, so use nationally negotiated deals through DfE-approved framework agreements. Find a DfE-approved framework for your school. 

4. Benchmark costs locally: Use the DfE’s school financial benchmarking website, and for realistic comparison charts, you need to select your own comparator schools/academies within your local area, review the results and act on the information shown.  

5. Switch energy suppliers regularly: Use an energy monitoring company such as Zenergi or use the Crown Commercial Service’s School Switch Service 

6. A realistic rolling programme of premises maintenance built into the Asset Management Plan: Use your condition survey to diarise a programme of necessary works, add a rolling programme of re-decoration/renewal, and use estimated costs in your annual budget and forward financial plan.  

7. Generate income from lettings: Think carefully about what your school hall, playground or field could be used for. Outside spaces - netball court or football pitch, could these be used by local clubs? Inside space - is the hall suitable for a badminton court, keep fit class, yoga or dance classes? Compare local provision prices to ensure your hourly charge covers your costs plus makes a profit.  

8. Breakfast & After-School clubs: If currently running these, review the pricing structure and extend opening times to make it more attractive for working parents/carers following the government’s current wraparound care initiative; ensuring these are advertised on your website helps market your school for prospective new pupils.  

9. Monitor staff absences: Look for regular occurrences and include them in your performance management meetings with staff; this may help to cut down on supply costs. Negotiate costs with supply agencies or use GOV.UK’s guidance on Deal for schools: hiring supply teachers and agency workers.  

10. Advertise jobs using free websites: Since June 2018, GOV.UK has provided a free website for schools to advertise for teaching staff; register here 

Essex Schools Jobs is also free for all school/academy staff to advertise online. Other local authorities (LAs) provide similar free job sites. 


Effectively managing a school budget requires careful planning, strategic resource allocation, and a commitment to maximising efficiency. By implementing the 10 top tips outlined in this blog post, schools can optimise their financial resources, enhance operational effectiveness, and ultimately improve educational outcomes for pupils.   

Make the most of your money with Juniper’s expertise  

Realise the full potential of your school's budget with Juniper's team of expert finance consultants.  

With over 30 years of education finance experience, we're here to help your money go further.  

Download our 10 top tips so they are always on hand to refer to. 

Or book a free consultation today and let Juniper become your reliable education partner, ensuring your school's finances work harder for you.