Posted by Pam Tuckett on February 8, 2018
Our recently released benchmarking report is a useful tool for both single academy (SAT) and multi academy trusts (MAT) to assist with your academy planning.
The body of the report
This details our core findings and observations. We recommend you read all of this and ensure your management team and Trustees are aware of the key facts that are important to your Trust. This should include consideration of factors that could affect your Trust in the next 12-18 months. This might include joining or forming a multi academy trust.
There are 3 appendices, depending on your type of Trust. These appendices can be used for two purposes, one to assess your historical performance against the wider sector, but secondly to consider what impact this could have on your future budget setting.
To compare historical performance, you will need to obtain your benchmark data from your own audited financial statements. Bishop Fleming clients will shortly receive a complete appendix with benchmarks already completed for the year ended 31 August 2017. This will allow you to compare your Trust to the sector and to see if there are any significant areas to examine. As mentioned before, if you are a SAT and are considering forming/joining a MAT, you should also compare to the MAT benchmarks to get an idea of what it impact there could be on your budgets.
Those in a MAT will also need to consider benchmarks at an additional level of detail. For example, you may be a MAT with 8 schools, and the MAT average may not highlight any issues of concern. However, you could have two schools of concern within the MAT which would not be highlighted at the MAT level. This level of school detail is not included within the statutory accounts and so will need to be identified from other sources of information. Such as your own internal reporting or the recent AAR submitted to the ESFA.
Once you have highlighted any unusual benchmarks you will need to decide what action needs to be taken. It may be that whilst a benchmark is outside of the average range, but that due to specific factors no action needs to be taken. For example a school with a high proportion of SEN pupils may have a higher ratio of support staff to teachers, but this would be expected. You will still want to set a target benchmark specific to that school, to ensure that it does not become unaffordable.
Once you have reviewed your historical benchmark data, you can use it in conjunction with the sector averages to set target KPI’s for both 17/18 but also 18/19 and further when starting to set budgets. This will help you to identify areas where further cost savings may be achievable, but also other areas of interest where perhaps you may be able to spend more money but also more effectively.
Finally, should you be required to produce a deficit recovery plan for the ESFA, this benchmarking can form a vital part of the recovery plan and can demonstrate what action you have taken or are planning to take to address the deficits.
If you would like assistance with benchmarking individual schools within your MAT, please contact your usual Bishop Fleming contact.