Importance and benefits of forward financial planning

Forward financial planning is essential for good financial management.

When based on your detailed school development plan, it provides the school with a clear view of how to utilise your resources in the most efficient and effective way to provide the best outcomes for the pupils. The ability to calculate the effect of potential changes enables you to look at different scenarios, especially useful when staffing restructures are necessary as the financial effects often cross into later years.

If you are in the unfortunate position of experiencing a falling roll, your forward plan can demonstrate the effect this will have. Conversely, accurate planning helps to make the best use of carry forward balances. Given that budgets are getting tighter year on year, sustainability is key. Combining your current one-year budget with costed plans for school development highlights the long-term sustainability of future spending decisions.

Formulating your forward financial plan is the ideal time to review your current contracts; think about whether the services/licenses are actually required; compare costs with other schools well in advance of renewal deadlines, to ensure you are adhering to best value principles. If all assumptions are clearly documented, it will be easy to review or update throughout the year when there are significant changes to be incorporated.

Interpreting the results is paramount. If you have an in-year deficit, you will be drawing on reserves to balance your budget, but, remember that although you can run at a deficit for years, you will run out of money just once.