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Join our free 3 week CPD series on finance

Join our free 3 week CPD series on finance

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With school funding (or the lack of it) making the move from the pages of the TES and Schools Week into the mainstream media, those of us in governance can feel at the sharp end of things. With an increased awareness of the perilous state of school finance comes the knowledge that staff, parents and even pupils (see the Dear Mr Gibb campaign) will be paying closer attention to how those funds are spent and managed.

The recently-updated DfE’s Governance Handbook starts off by restating the three core functions of governance:

Governance Handbook January 2017 secton 1.1 paragraph 2

Governance Handbook January 2017 secton 1.1 para 2 [View & download original]

Each one of these three functions is challenging in its own way. Many of us can struggle for a vision which matches our institution’s ethos and yet gives meaningful strategic direction and the intricacies. For others the nuances of professional relationships can be challenging when mixed with the overwhelming volume of data regarding all sorts of performance. However, the third core function – the oversight of an organisation’s financial performance – is a universal challenge, particularly in the current financially pressured times.

Building capacity in the governance community

As individuals, we might feel ill-equipped to deal with our own domestic finances and therefore – as volunteers – the challenges and complexities of a organisation’s finances can seem daunting. Such pressures often cause boards to attempt to co-opt someone – anyone – with experience of handling finances to help them. With this approach there’s a risk that we can, as a board, subconsciously shift the responsibilities to that individual alone (“they know what they’re doing, right?”) and step back from having any understanding ourselves (“I can switch off a little for this part of the meeting…”).

With this in mind, in the three weeks leading up to Easter our Governor Live series of online CPD will give anyone involved in governance or leadership the chance to feel more confident, better informed and more able to ask questions about their school’s finances. All Governor Live events are free and open to anyone – irrespective of whether your school, academy or MAT currently subscribes to Modern Governor or not.

Who are these events for?

These sessions are recommend for both maintained school governors and those involved in academy governance. All SLT members are welcome to attend as well and the events will be recorded, with details of the recordings sent to all those who have registered.

Who will be speaking?

Our guest expert is Karen Rae, who will be familiar to anyone who took part in last term’s Considerations for Conversion series. Karen is chair of governors at a secondary Academy and is also Audit & Assurance Director for Armstrong Watson, specialising in the preparation of financial statements and audits of corporate, charity and not for profit clients.

When are these events?

Karen will be leading three sessions in the weeks leading up to Easter, with a fourth session at the start of the summer term. All sessions are on Thursday evenings, starting at 8pm and running for an hour.

Are they worth my time?

Here are some comments from previous Governor Live events:

“A great opportunity to see other governors’ views and thoughts on this subject.”
“All the content was useful, thank you – especially the opportunity for Q&As.”
“Concise, live and great to be able to ask questions and feel involved.”
“…these sessions are extremely helpful and of real practical use. This feels like a real online community.”

What are the topics?

Budgeting basic for governors & trustees – 23rd March at 8pm

This session will help to dispel the myth that budgeting is difficult. We will cover key aspects of information gathering, who should be involved in the budgeting process and the information which formulates the year end budget. We’ll provide a practical step by step guide through both worked examples of how to put your budget together and the interpretation of actuals to budget will support you with this crucial management information tool.

Understanding cashflows for school governance – 30th March at 8pm

Monitoring the bank balance at each month end is no longer a satisfactory method of ensuring your school has sufficient funds. In times of funding constraints, cash management is crucial and this event will give you support and guidance on how to prepare a cash flow, the key elements to monitor to ensure your school meets its liabilities as they fall due and an opportunity to look at revenue recognition, providing reassurance that revenue is recognised on the correct basis.

Interpreting monthly management accounts and KPIs – 6th April at 8pm

Informative management accounts will allow those in governance to challenge and make informed decisions to drive the strategic direction of the school forward in the future. In this event we will discuss interpreting the results of management accounts, the use of key performance indicators (KPIs), benchmarking your school against others – all of which will naturally drive improvements in your own performance and helps to unearth what fund balances actually mean in the assessment of going concern.

Added value for Modern Governor subscribers

If your school, academy or MAT has a subscription to Modern Governor then you can access a pair of modules to support your work in this are. Our Core Skills Finance for non-financial managers module is an introduction to the language of balance sheets and profit & loss for those who don’t have expertise in this area, which the Financial management for governors module helps those in governance understand the responsibilities they have associated with the third core function of governance.

Part of a wider offer of CPD in governance

These three Governor Live events, presented by Modern Governor in conjunction with berg, Armstrong Watson and C:BECS, are part of an extensive programme spanning the spring and summer terms – which, as ever, are free and open to anyone. Find out more and register for the other events.

Image credit: Margarida CSilva via Unsplash.

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