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Major update to Modern Governor’s Financial Management for Governors module available

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Major update to Modern Governor’s Financial Management for Governors module available

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Michael BurkeMichael Burke, Director of Finance and Administration at The Elmgreen School in London and fellow of the NASBM, is the author of the updated Modern Governor Financial Management for Governors module, which is now available to all subscribers to the Modern Governor service. In this post, which also gives an overview of the module, he looks at how important it is for governors and trustees to take a proactive role in examining how the finances of a school are managed. You can follow Michael on Twitter at @Michael_L_Burke.

“May you live in interesting times” runs the old (and probably apocryphal) curse and these certainly are interesting and challenging times on many levels. Not least among the challenges facing schools and academies is managing their finances as cost pressures mount and income shrinks. Changes – both in government personnel and in our relationship with Europe – still have to work their way through the system and it will be some while before we fully understand the impact on public finance and school budgets.

Whether there are big, small or no changes the need for governors and trustees to hold senior leaders to account for the management of finances will not change. It will seem more pressing when resources are scarce, but no one should wait for that to be the driver of effective financial management.

From getting to grips with terminology (also through the Core Skills Finance for Non-financial Managers module), through budget setting and subsequent monitoring, governors and trustees can use the Financial Management for Governors module to understand their role and to exercise meaningful and effective oversight. They should also understand the value that a school business manager or chief financial officer can bring to the effective management of resources. The National Association of School Business Managers have developed a set of professional standards which will help governors and trustees have confidence in the ability of the financial professionals in their schools.

An Oscar Wilde character once complained that cynics were people who “knew the price of everything and the value of nothing”. Governors and trustees have to know and understand both!

Details of the updated, mobile-friendly module

Modern Governor subscribers can now enrol and work their way through the comprehensively updated module covering (and entitled) Financial monitoring for governors. The module covers all aspects of governors’ and trustees’ roles in the critical financing monitoring element of governance and is immediately available to all Modern Governor subscribers. Like all new and updated Modern Governor modules, it works on smartphones, tablets and ‘traditional’ laptop or desktop computers.

The module’s structure

Here’s an overview of how the module is structured:

  • Financial responsibilities – the duties of governors, trustees and directors for school and academy finances;
  • Key accounting terms – key concepts and terms of accounting;
  • Budget setting – the process of setting a budget and any underlying assumptions;
  • Financial monitoring – the process of financial monitoring, assessing the school’s financial performance and what questions to ask;
  • Internal control systems – financial health and internal control systems;
  • Summary and Quiz – an opportunity to review the module and further test one’s own knowledge and understanding

The module is intended to cover content for both maintained schools and academies – areas applicable only to academies are indicated throughout the module. As with all of the modules, whose content might extend beyond the remit of governors in one situation (for example a maintained school) we’d recommend that everyone works through all of the sections, as this will give governors in maintained schools an understanding of the additional responsibilities required of academies.

Part of wider governance CPD

SMSC module certificate

A sample certificate which would be awarded on completion of the Modern Governor SMSC Development module.

Local authorities and multi-academy trusts who offer Modern Governor as part of their training or development service level agreement can use this module as pre-face to face course material – allowing governance support staff to check if participants have worked through the module as pre-course material, but is generally available for any governor to enrol on and complete as part of their own personal professional development.

In common with all Modern Governor modules, once they’ve finished governors are able to download a personalised certificate in PDF format as evidence of completion of the module. On request representatives from a local authority, diocese, academy trust or chain, or if required the school’s development governor can easily run an online report showing detailed course enrolment and completion statistics by governors from a school, academy or (with appropriate permissions) across a trust, chain, diocese or local authority.

The module is available to subscribers to the Modern Governor service along with nearly thirty other modules plus all of the already-released and forthcoming Modern Governor Core Skills modules. Any subscriber who logs in is immediately able to enrol on and complete any module, including this newly updated one. If you’d like to have full access to five of the mobile friendly modules then simply sign up for the free, no-obligation, 30 day trial.

Questions governors & trustees might have asked – or might like to

If as a governor or trustee you have ever asked yourself one of more of the following questions then this module is right for you:

  • What should I know about finances?
  • How do I know I’m being given the complete picture about the state of our school’s finances?
  • The business manager seems to speak another language – how can I provide challenge if I don’t understand?

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