A new toolkit to help schools save money to ensure every pound possible is being spent in the classroom has been published by the Government.
The School Resource Management Strategy provides schools with practical advice on how to reduce what it says is a £10 billion non-staffing spend spent across England last year.
The Government estimates schools could save up to a billion pounds through better procurement and buying strategies.
The strategy includes information on how to work collaboratively with other schools to drive down costs on things like stationery, energy and water bills, as well as supporting schools with staff recruitment and retention.
The Government says that between 2014/15 and 2016/17 schools saved £106 million on non-staff spending and that a nationwide network of Schools Resource Management Advisers is helping to build on that ‘success’.
The toolkit announcement follows a pledge by the Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, to work with schools and bear down on cost pressures so every pound counts in the classroom.
He said: “I want to help schools use their resources as effectively as possible. This strategy equips head teachers and school business professionals with the practical advice, resources and support they need so that they can focus on what they do so well – delivering high-quality education for their pupils.
“There can be no great schools without great teachers to inspire and motivate children, so it’s absolutely right that we help schools to maximise the money they have to spend in the classroom by working together, making sure they’re getting the best deals and are not being overcharged for services.”
Earlier this year, Hinds unveiled plans to clamp down on agencies charging schools excessive fees to recruit staff and provide a free platform for schools to advertise vacancies, which costs on average £75 million a year.
A national network of buying hubs, which offer procurement support to schools, a register of recommended best value deals and an online utility bill comparison tool are among other steps being put into place.
The Government says the register of recommended deals has helped schools save £21 million since April 2018, with one school – Belmont Community School in Durham – £30,000 better off by simply switching to a better printing and photocopying deal. Another eight deals will be added to the register today.
The strategy was welcomed by The Institute of School Business Leadership – CEO Stephen Morales said: “ISBL welcomes the Department’s guidance on excellent school resource management. We believe that the effective review of the school’s resources by the whole leadership team across pedagogy, governance and business will help to ensure that schools reach appropriate recommendations for the effective use of their resources. We would recommend that school leaders use this guidance to help to steer and focus their discussions when considering how to reduce cost pressures and optimise the use of available resources.”