It was with utter dismay that I watched the BBC Panorama investigation earlier in the week. The programme exposed the financial irregularities associated with a small number of Multi Academy Trusts.
I always find it incredible disappointing when public money is (allegedly) misappropriated.
Our trust now supports 4 schools on 7 sites (soon to be 5 schools). We have a multi-million pound turnover. Our trust has a financial team that is audited both internally and externally. Our governors, trustees and directors are regularly appraised of our financial position. I am certain that our trust would never find itself in the position outlined by Panorama.
What angers me about schools and trusts not using funds wisely is the fact that the whole school system suffers.
I’ve been a head and a CEO for over 25 years and I have never known money to be so tight. I have blogged before saying that if our schools hadn’t formed a trust 4 years ago we’d be really struggling now. We are fortunate that by working together our schools can create economies of scale. This makes ‘balancing the books’ a little easier. We can all support each other. However, we are facing unprecedented challenges:
- limited money for capital investment
- teacher recruitment and retention crisis
- a growing number of young people
- a flat funding system (in the last 5 years we have lost over 14% of budgets in real terms)
- rising staff costs through unfunded government pay awards
- increased utility costs
- less grant funding available
At the same time we are expected to raise standards! There is a real tension in the system here. I firmly believe that my main role should be about raising standards for your children. I’ve spent most of the week looking at how we can save money!!
We’ll continue to innovate, we’ll continue to break down barriers, we’ll continue to offer outstanding provision. However, we need to lobby for greater investment into our schools and post 19 organisations. We can’t keep living on goodwill.
It’s the Head for the Hills music and arts festival this weekend – I may see some of you there. Have a great one,
You can find all Graham’s previous blog entries here