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Governor Live Review: Interpreting monthly management accounts and KPIs

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Governor Live Review: Interpreting monthly management accounts and KPIs

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The fifth Governor Live event of 2017 – Interpreting monthly management accounts and KPIs, part of our mini-series on finance – took place last Thursday evening, the 6th of April. Karen Rae – chair of finance at a secondary Academy and Audit & Assurance Director for Armstrong Watson – spent about forty minutes exploring what management accounts are and why and key performance indicators are important in a school or academy setting, including:

  • What are management accounts?
  • Statutory Obligations
  • Layouts
  • Interpretation of results
  • Key Performance Indicators

This was then followed by our usual time of questions and discussion – the recording of which and slides from are further down the page

Presentation slides

Here are the slides from Karen’s presentation, reproduced and shared with permission:

Questions asked by participants

Karen answered all of these questions – view the recordings further down the page to see the answers.

  • Is it worth including the actual percentage variance +or – from budget?
  • Karen spoke of reports for governors on a quarterly or six-monthly basis. Even though academic and financial years are different, would termly reports to coincide with governor meetings be a reasonable request to ensure that they are timely?
  • Pension liability – can this/is this shown as FRS17?
  • How often should we review this KPI data?
  • I have been lead to believe that staff percentage ratio is around 75%?
  • I was led to believe (on a course) %staff wages/budget ratio should be 75-85%?
  • Should accountability to governors form part of the school business manager (SBM)’s job description?
  • Some SBMs are Associate Members, but isn’t this a potential conflict of interest?
  • What other KPIs could we look at if the ones suggested are ‘simple”?

Resources shared during the discussion

Karen shared two PDF versions giving examples of two different methods of managing and documenting cash flows, plus the original simple Excel spreadsheet from which the PDFs were generated:

  1. Management accounts slide 1 (PDF);
  2. Management accounts slide 2 (PDF);
  3. Key Performance Indicators (PDF).

Participants’ evaluations

Here are some of the comments made by those who took part:

“Really clear – good structure. KPIs were especially good.”
“Clear guidance on challenging the figures, and limits to how far governors should question.”
“…made sense of last night’s finance meeting…”
“As ever, a very useful session. Thank you.”

Watch the recording

There are two options for viewing the record. The first is on the Modern Governor Adobe Connect server, and allows you to search the text of the slides and discussion between participants during the event. This requires the Adobe Flash Player and therefore won’t work on a smartphone or tablet. If you attended the live event on your computer, then you’ll be able to watch this version.

A more accessible but less interactive version of the recording is available on the Modern Governor YouTube channel:

The next Governor Live session: Systems & controls and the Academies Financial Handbook

On Thursday the 27th of April at 8pm Karen will be presenting the next Governor Live session entitled Systems & controls and the Academies Financial Handbook. Here’s her introduction to this session:

Karen Rae

“Why do we need systems and what constitutes good controls? This event goes through the basics of establishing strong and robust systems and controls and covers the guidelines of the Academies Financial Handbook. Governors, heads and budget holders will benefit from the strategic knowledge that transactions are being processed as intended and that schools are compliant from a regulatory point of view.

and don’t forget to browse the extensive list of upcoming Governor Live events – all free to sign up for and take part in, and open to governors, trustees and senior leadership teams.

Image credit: based on an image by Kaique RochaCC0 from

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