ICFP and Financial Sustainability – An algebra pop quiz?

Surprisingly in this field, I often meet people who do not really love numbers and don’t really like discussing them. In our school role, it is impossible to go through a term without using spreadsheets and data. Just when you thought this was enough, metrics and management ratios are the new buzz words. They come in the form of the Integrated Curriculum and Financial Planning (ICFP)

So, what is it?
The education sector continues to be affected by shrinking budgets and rising costs. The focus on financial efficiency and sustainability is becoming more and more pressing.

It is a diagnostic tool that uses numerical measures to identify key issues within your school’s resource use and generates a starting point for discussion. When one has managed to calculate and interpret the data it is then possible to reconcile staffing and curriculum plans with what can be delivered in a balanced budget, write a strategic plan for 3 to 5 years, set regular reviews and update the plan as things change. This is enough to send anyone with maths anxiety into a panic.

The DFE already made the use of this method a condition of grant funding for the MAT development and Improvement Fund. More recently, funded training is being rolled out to maintained primary and secondary schools and delivered by the ISBL.
What do you do then, if you are the person at school in charge of preparing, analysing, planning and reconciling this data?
You start with a detailed three year budget plan. This isn’t so bad. A breakdown of staffing including leadership. Simple enough. Curriculum Plan and relevant context. A piece of cake. You then have a choice of 12 key diagnostic staffing metrics. The DFE website’s ICFP glossary of terms and workbook (Excel spreadsheet) is the holy grail for a School Leadership Team.

Schools will be able to spot areas out of kilter and have a greater understanding of how resources are deployed. It’s main goal is for maximising resources in order to provide the best education for children.
The key point is that the data out is as only as good as the data you put in. So change your door sign to busy, re-stock the biscuits and get number crunching! (definition: mathematical work performed by people or computers with large amounts of information or data)

Photo by Digital Buggu on Pexels.com

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