School Financial Values Standard (SFVS)

What is the SFVS?

Schools manage many billions of pounds of public money each year.  Effective financial management ensures this money is spent wisely and properly, and allows schools to optimise their resources to provide high-quality teaching and learning and so raise standards and attainment for all their pupils.  The SFVS replaces the Financial Management Standard in Schools (FMSiS) and has been designed in conjunction with schools to assist them in managing their finances and to give assurance that they have secure financial management in place.

 

Who is the SFVS for?

The standard is a requirement for local authority maintained schools.  Other schools are welcome to use any of the material associated with the standard, if they would find it useful.   Governing bodies have formal responsibility for the financial management of their schools, and so the standard is primarily aimed at governors.  

 

What do schools need to do?

  • The standard consists of 25 questions which governing bodies should formally discuss annually with the head teacher and senior staff.
  • The questions which form the standard are in sections A to D. Each question requires an answer of Yes, In Part, or No. 
    • If the answer is Yes, the comments column can be used to indicate the main evidence on which the governing body based its answer.
    • If the answer is No or In Part, the column should contain a very brief summary of the position and proposed remedial action.
  • In Section E, governors should summarise remedial actions and the timetable for reporting back. Governors should ensure that each action has a specified deadline and an agreed owner.
  • The governing body may delegate the consideration of the questions to a finance or other relevant committee, but a detailed report should be provided to the full governing body and the chair of governors must sign the completed form.
  • The school must send a copy of the signed standard to their local authority’s finance department.

There is no prescription of the level of evidence that the governing body should require.  The important thing is that governors are confident about their responses. 

 

What is the role of local authorities (LAs)?

Unlike FMSiS, the SVFS will not be externally assessed.  LAs should use schools’ SFVS returns to inform their programme of financial assessment and audit.  LA and other auditors will have access to the standard, and when they conduct an audit can check whether the self-assessment is in line with their own judgement.  Auditors should make the governing body and the LA aware of any major discrepancies in judgements.

 

Timetable – key dates

  • For all maintained schools, the first run through was required by 31 March 2013; and an annual review thereafter.

The DfE website includes support notes for each question, which governing bodies can use if they wish.  The notes provide clarification of the questions, examples of good practice and information on further support to assist schools in addressing specific issues.

School name:            LINTON-ON-OUSE PRIMARY SCHOOL    

Annual Return as at 29th November 2016 to hit March 2017 deadline

LA and school DfE numbers:  8152171


LIST OF QUESTIONS

 

ANSWER

(Yes/In Part/No)

COMMENTS, EVIDENCE AND PROPOSED ACTIONS

A: The Governing Body and School Staff

1.   In the view of the governing body itself and of senior staff, does the governing body have adequate financial skills among its members to fulfil its role of challenge and support in the field of budget management and value for money?

 

Yes

 

 

The Chair is a CCAB qualified accountant and is able to call upon the advice and experience of other members of the Body.

All governors have attended, or are booked on, the “Getting Started: A Training Day For New Governors” course.

The Headteacher produces 3-Year Financial Plans with assistance from the Finance Officer which is discussed and reviewed at regular intervals.

The school utilises the FMS service during their half-termly visits and calls upon them for further advice and guidance when required to ensure that due process is being rigorously followed.

2.   Does the governing body have a finance committee (or equivalent) with clear terms of reference and a knowledgeable and experienced chair?

 

Yes

 

 

 

The Body does have a Finance Committee (combined with Personnel Committee), and the Terms of Reference are agreed at the first meeting of the year (took place on 17th October 2016). 

The Sub-Committee Chair is a CCAB qualified accountant. 

Minutes are held centrally and securely in the Headteacher’s office. 

Other members of the sub-committee have a variety of financial skills and experience.

3.   Is there a clear definition of the relative responsibilities of the governing body and the school staff in the financial field?

 

Yes

 

 

The Headteacher and Governing Body review the Budget Management Policy annually, along with the FMS Officer.  The Scheme of Delegation Policy is also reviewed annually by the Finance Committee year (took place on 17th October 2016). 

The School Staff Handbook specifies that £30 is the maximum that staff can spend on small items.  Any higher costs must be cleared by the Headteacher.

Subject Leaders discuss larger purchases with the Headteacher to obtain authority to spend any monies.

4.   Does the governing body receive clear and concise monitoring reports of the school’s budget position at least three times a year?

 

Yes

 

 

The Finance Committee meets a minimum of three times a year, usually more. 

The Budget Monitoring Report produced by the FMS Officer is studied in detail by the Finance Committee year (last took place on 17th October 2016) and taken to the Full Governing Body three times per year allowing governors to understand the financial situation and to challenge the Committee on any issues.

5.   Are business interests of governing body members and staff properly registered and taken into account so as to avoid conflicts of interest?

 

Yes

 

 

At the start of every full Governing Body meeting.

The Declaration of Interests proformas are signed by each governor annually at the first meeting of the new school year and are held centrally by the Clerk.

6.   Does the school have access to an adequate level of financial expertise, including when specialist finance staff are absent, eg on sick leave?

 

Yes

 

 

The school buys into the full FMS Service whose hours can be increased if required.

The school is able to call upon the Finance Officer and experienced Administrative Assistants from Cluster schools for additional support; this has occurred before.

7.  Does the school review its staffing structure regularly?

 

 

Yes

 

 

The school staffing structure is discussed and reviewed annually to meet the goals, objectives and future needs of the school year. 

The issue is an annual agenda point at a Full Governing Body meeting to ensure all governors are aware of future staffing plans and the associated costs needing to be taken into account.

8.  Have your pay decisions been reached in accordance with a pay policy reflecting clear performance criteria?

Yes

The school fully utilises the NYCC Model Pay Policy annually.  Robust annual and mid-year Performance Management by the Headteacher and Senior Leadership Team ensures all members of staff are quite clear on their performance criteria and targets.

All decisions are discussed and agreed by the Finance and Personnel Committee.

9.  Has the use of professional independent advice informed part of the pay decision process in relation to the Headteacher?

Yes

The Governing Body decided at their meeting on 7th July 2015 (Minute 160.18b) to sign up for the Level 2 Package of NYCC Headteacher Performance Management which brings with it a full days service from an external independent advisor.

This package was processed via the NYCC SmartSolution system.  This year an Advisor was appointed and has completed the Headteacher’s Performance management along with the Headteacher’s Performance Management Committee.

B:  Setting the Budget

10.   Is there a clear and demonstrable link between the school’s budgeting and its plan for raising standards and attainment?

 

Yes

 

 

The School Development Plan is costed and noted on the school’s Action Plans and longer term financial plans.

This is not an easy document to budget as the school often does not know children’s unique requirements when they arrive at our school.  Our plans require being constantly flexible.

Last year the school had 61% mobility.

The rapid increase in pupil numbers meant that the Pupil Premium had to be used to fund additional support staff.

Specific support groups have been established in each year group throughout KS1 and 2 in maths, reading, spelling and writing.  

11.   Does the school make a forward projection of budget, including both revenue and capital funds, for at least three years, using the best available information?

 

Yes

 

 

The FMS Officer creates this.

Again, due to the transient nature of our pupils, there is an element of educated “crystal-ball gazing” – our school has an average pupil mobility of 39.5% per year (11/12 - 35%, 12/13 - 50.7%, 13/14 - 17%, 14-15 34%, 15/16 61%) - making forward projection a difficult task. 

Using past knowledge, flexibility and the expertise of the FMS Service, the school utilises the best available information.

12.  Does the school set a well-informed and balanced budget each year (with an agreed and timed plan for eliminating any deficit)?

 

Yes

 

 

The school’s budget is very carefully managed throughout each year and is based on the best information known at the time.

The budget is reviewed and updated when more firm information becomes available. 

There has not been a deficit budget for at least 13 years during the entire tenure of the current Headteacher. 

13.  Is end year outturn in line with budget projections, or if not, is the governing body alerted to significant variations in a timely manner, and do they result from explicitly planned changes or from genuinely unforeseeable circumstances?

 

Yes

 

 

Half-termly FMS produced Budget Monitoring Reports ensure potential “significant variations” are identified.  Staying within the 8% outturn guideline is achieved.

A Year End Summary report is produced.

 

 

 

C:  Value for Money

14.   Does the school benchmark its income and expenditure annually against that of similar schools and investigate further where any category appears to be out of line?

 

Yes

 

 

This is actioned annually by the FMS Officer.

The Governing Body discuss any variances to ensure transparency, and ensures that there are no surprises discussing and investigating each category by turn.

 

15.   Does the school have procedures for purchasing goods and services that both meet legal requirements and secure value for money?

 

Yes

 

 

All goods and services are procured in accordance with the NYCC Terms and Conditions and LMS Procedure Rules.

The School Administrator completed the Procurement Training Course at County Hall on 14th January 2014 and has sought advice from the Procurement Office as required.

Three quotes for services are sourced to ensure best value and multiple options are researched before purchase of smaller items such as class cameras and office laminators, security cabinets etc.

A further example of ensuring “value for money” occurs when the Chair of Governors attends 2 days of the schools 5-day annual residential visit at East Barnby to ensure that the trip continues to provide an excellent level of education, care and facilities for the money being charged.

The Headteacher is aware of the limit of individual expenditure allowed (currently £5,000) and has secured the authorisation of the Governing Body before potential major purchases have been researched – the latest example being the purchase of 7 iPads, associated software and hardware and the requirement to install two further power-sockets.

The Headteacher and Administrator read and discuss Procurement Newsletters and review all alert messages, emails and directives published by Veritau.

SFVS has been achieved every year since it was initiated.

16.   Are balances at a reasonable level and does the school have a clear plan for using the money it plans to hold in balances at the end of each year?

 

Yes

 

 

Balances are controlled and held within NYCC guidelines of 8%.  Uses of Capital Balances are planned and in-line with the 3-Year Plan. 

Double glazing remains a priority.

17.  Does the school maintain its premises and other assets to an adequate standard to avoid future urgent need for replacement?

 

Yes

 

 

The school buys into the full MASS Scheme annually.

Our school is an Airey Building and thus far has survived double its life expectancy.

Any area of the premises that requires work is actioned as soon as the issue arises.  Recommendations from H&S and Premises Sub-Committee inspections are actioned as a matter of priority.

Following a Safety Risk Advisor’s visit to the school on 29th June 2016, the inspection report was excellent reflecting the Headteacher’s and the Premises and Health & Safety Committees commitment to this issue.  The report stated;

·                    There were no outstanding issues and the H&S Advisor stated he was most pleased to note that his recommendations had been swiftly actioned from his last inspection in 2015.

·                    There was no Essential work required, just an old set of wooden ladders to be disposed of.

The Headteacher remains pro-active in this area to ensure that the standards of the premises are as high as possible.

18.  Does the school consider collaboration with others, eg on sharing staff or joint purchasing, where that would improve value for money?

 

Yes

 

 

 

The remote location of the school prevents staff sharing with other Cluster schools, although the Cluster does share resources.

Shared information, and training, is constantly used.

A more formal partnership agreement has been entered into with the Easingwold Cluster of Schools since September 2014.

Sharing of coaches to cluster events was thoroughly investigated this year, but the distances between the remote cluster schools proved to be not cost effective.

19.  Can the school give examples of where it has improved the use of resources during the past year?

 

Yes

 

 

This past year saw our pupil numbers peak at 130 despite only being funded for 95.  And given the very high mobility of the children (refer to Q11) this year saw a total of 179 children taught at the school.  This necessitated the Headteacher and Governing Body seeking alternative funding for resources from two major sources; 

·          Firstly, a Ministry of Defence Educational Grant was received after a great deal of effort for the sum of £5800.00.  This grant was broken down as £800 to purchase new maths resources which was the major effort stated on the School Development Plan and the remaining £5000 was used on improving the infrastructure required due to the surge in pupil numbers; more dining room tables and benches, more classroom tables and chairs, more stationery to properly resource the pupils and more teaching assistants.

·          Secondly, the governors invited a senior delegation from NYCC CYPS to visit the school to see for themselves the financial strain that the school is under.  In order for the school to maintain the high levels of computing resources demanded by the new curriculum, the school had spent £13,000 upgrading the server, purchasing more laptops, iPads and software.  The NYCC delegation recognised the unique situation that the school was in and fully refunded the £13,000 from their Growing Schools Contingency Fund.

Additionally;

·         The PTA (Friends of Linton School) has once again performed magnificently raising funds for a variety of projects, freeing up school money for other essential purchases.

·         The school re-negotiated with the website provider to ensure that services purchased were best value and modern.

·         The school hall was redecorated after effort was taken to ensure best quality and value for money was obtained.  The decorator did an excellent job and so his details were passed around the Cluster in an effort to save other schools having to go through the whole research process.

·         Given the heightened expectations and demand for impact when using the Sports Premium, the school researched, negotiated and switched to an alternative PE provider this year.  Their impact was immediate as the school beat a rival school at netball for the first time and were placed in the top four in the football league (their highest ever placing)!

D:  Protecting Public Money

20.  Is the governing body sure that there are no outstanding matters from audit reports or from previous consideration of weaknesses by the governing body?

 

Yes

 

 

The last Veritau Audit was conducted on 1st & 2nd December 2011.  The report, and remedial action taken, were presented to the full Governing Body and minuted (Minute 139.12). 

Guidance from that audit is constantly referred to and used.

There are no outstanding issues.

The School Administrator regularly attends NYCC Finance meetings where members of Veritau give presentations thereby ensuring the school has the very latest information and guidance.

21.  Are there adequate arrangements in place to guard against fraud and theft by staff, contractors and suppliers (please note any instance of fraud or theft detected in the last 12 months)?

 

Yes

 

 

Procurement guidelines are strictly followed. 

All purchases are authorised by the Headteacher before ordering.  Deliveries are cross-checked against orders by two members of staff.

All assets over £50 are entered onto the School Inventory which is annually checked and signed by the Headteacher as per regulations (last signed in September 2015).  Hard copies of the School Inventory are held in the Headteacher’s secure cabinet and in the Veritau authorised water-proof and fire-proof cash box.

The Selecta DNA system is used to mark the school assets and no attractive items are left out or visible through windows.

Two signatories are required on all payment cheques.

The Headteacher scrutinises all Supply Claim forms before they are electronically submitted to County Hall.

There are no instances of fraud or theft in the last 12 months.

22.  Are all staff aware of the school’s whistleblowing arrangements and to whom they should report concerns?

 

Yes

 

The Whistleblowing Charter poster is prominently displayed in the staffroom.  The Policy is signed and held in the Staff Folder and within the Staff Handbook.

23.  Does the school have an accounting system that is adequate and properly run and delivers accurate reports, including the annual Consistent Financial Reporting return?

 

Yes

 

The FMS Officer produces all reports using the LA and Veritau approved software.

24.  Does the school have adequate arrangements for audit of voluntary funds?

 

 

Yes

 

 

The school uses independent external auditors recommended to the school by Veritau.  The audited accounts are submitted to the Charity Commission annually and were discussed at the full Governing Body Meeting held on 16th May 2016 (Minute 165.15).

The Headteacher reviews the school fund on a monthly basis, following reconciliation of the fund with each Bank Statement.

25.  Does the school have an appropriate business continuity or disaster recovery plan, including an up-to-date asset register and adequate insurance?

 

Yes

 

 

The school follows the 2016 guidance provided by the NYCC published School Emergency Response Guide.

The Asset Register (Inventory) is up-to-date and held both electronically with a printed copy retained in the Veritau approved fire/water proof safe box.

A disaster recovery exercise was conducted, successfully, with the aid of the ICT Technician. 

The upgrading of the server and back-up systems in the later part of the previous academic year means that back-up tapes are no longer used.  In their place a new back-up system is now housed in the Headteacher’s Office – the exact opposite end of the school to the server thus ensuring that both systems cannot be damaged at the same time during an accident.

Business Continuity would be provided through the local RAF Station.  Correspondence dated 12th December 2013 re-affirmed the RAF Station’s commitment to provide facilities for the school to use including the gymnasium and the classroom facilities in their Station Learning Centre.  This arrangement will continue to be reviewed to ensure that when key personalities within the RAF Station change the new incumbents are aware of the arrangements.   

OUTCOME OF SELF-ASSESSMENT

E:  Summary of agreed remedial action and timetable for reporting back:

This is the fifth annual submission of the SFVS.  The Governing Body, the Finance Sub-committee, the Headteacher, FMS Officer and whole-school staff maintain their commitment to financial transparency, value for money, best practice and shrewd husbandry that ensures such standards are maintained each year.  Due to our Pupil Mobility, forward planning has to be flexible and is a difficult process.

Completing this SFVS Report in a timely fashion, considering each question separately, has given the school the opportunity to review our practices.  It has reminded us that we follow “best practice” as guided by the LA and Veritau at all times.

This completed document was seen and agreed by the Finance & Personnel Committee at their meeting held on 17th October 2016 and authorised for submission by the Full Governing Body at their meeting on 29th November 2016 (Minute 168.9).

 

Mrs Hazel Southern

Chair of Governors

Linton-on-Ouse Primary School

 

Date: 29th November 2016