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Linton-on-Ouse Primary School & Nursery

Learning and achieving; caring together

01347 848234

admin@linton.n-yorks.sch.uk

Linton Woods Lane, Linton-on-Ouse, York, North Yorkshire YO30 2BD

Headteacher: Mrs Davinia Pearson

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

  • Maintained schools which had not attained FMSiS by the end of March 2010 must complete and submit the SFVS to their local authority by 31 March 2012; and conduct an annual review thereafter.
  • For all other maintained schools, the first run through is 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                           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

 

 

Until March 2017 the Chair was a CCAB qualified accountant and much was learnt from that Chair on aspects of understanding and challenging the school budget.

 

All governors have attended the “Introduction to Governance – Getting Started in School Governance” course which covers financial challenge.

 

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

 

The FMS Officer has been present at Chair of Governor/Headteacher meetings to discuss the up-to-date financial situation and answer their questions.

 

This year, more than ever before, the Governing Body and Headteacher have utilised the skills and knowledge of the FMS Officer as the school has negotiated the choppy waters of a forecast deficit budget.  The depth of the forecast deficit budget has risen and fallen with each new tide and our Application for a Licence Deficit currently sits with the Head of NYCC Finance for Schools and Early Years.

 

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 13th November 2018). 

 

The newly appointed Chair of this Sub-Committee has been involved in all recent discussions and meetings with the FMS Officer. 

 

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 13th November 2018). 

 

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.

 

The FMS Officer has been present at Chair of Governor/Headteacher meetings to discuss the up-to-date financial situation and answer their questions.

 

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.

 

The Budget Monitoring Report produced by the FMS Officer is studied in detail by the Finance Committee (last took place on 13th November 2018) and taken to the Full Governing Body three times per year (last took place on 27th November 2018) allowing governors to understand the financial situation and to challenge the Committee on any issues.

 

Given the Licenced Deficit position, a huge amount of governors’ time has been spent discussing, interrogating, challenging and trimming the budget with the aim of not having to apply for a Licensed Deficit.

 

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/Business Managers 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.  The most recent review of the staffing structure took place during the Autumn term during the discussions regarding the Licenced Deficit Application taking into consideration the financial situation of the school, pupil numbers and staff requests.  The review was assisted by a visit and meeting between the Headteacher and the school’s NYCC HR Officer.

 

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 which was agreed by the Governing Body on 27th November 2018 (Minute 180.6b).  The Headteacher wished to make changes to the Pay Policy for the 2018/19 school year and following a meeting with a NYCC HR Case Officer at school on 16th October 2018, and a further consultation period with the staff, amended the policy. 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 has signed up for the Level 1 Package of NYCC Headteacher Performance Management again this year which brings with it a full days service from an external independent advisor. An Advisor was appointed and completed the Headteacher’s Performance management along with the Headteacher’s Performance Management Committee.  This was discussed at the Full Governing Body meeting on 9th October and is Minuted at 179.12b.

 

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 Improvement 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 65.4% mobility.

 

The fluctuation in pupil numbers and specific individual needs of newly arrived pupils meant that the Pupil Premium had to be used to fund additional support staff.  The revised plan for 2018-19 links directly with the School Improvement Plan; aligned on raising standards and attainment.

 

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 40% per year (11/12 - 35%, 12/13 - 50.7%, 13/14 - 17%, 14-15 34%, 15/16 61%, 16/17 17.5%, 17/18 65.4%) - 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. 

 

This year, for the first time in 15 years, there has been the requirement to apply for a Licenced Deficit Budget.  The reasons for this position have been fully reported to NYCC Finance Office, via the official Licence Deficit Application process after full input from the FMS Officer.  Should Veritau wish to see the audit chain of this process and the action taken thus far, copies can be made available.

 

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 has previously been achieved annually, but this year it was not possible, hence the Licenced Deficit Application.   This could very easily be put down to a result from genuinely unforeseeable circumstances, such as the hefty school staff pay awards, broadband costs, utilities costs, 26% SEN register etc which were all way beyond even our worst fears.

 

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 when required.

 

Three quotes for services are sourced to ensure best value and multiple options are researched before purchase.  Most recently three quotes have been sought from companies providing  fences around the perimeter.

 

Further examples of ensuring “value for money” are;

·                     Both the Chair of Governors and the Vice-Chair separately attended a day of the schools 5-day annual residential visit at Peat Rigg to ensure that the trip continues to provide an excellent level of education and personal development, care and facilities for the money being charged.

·                     The telephone contract was robustly re-negotiated this year resulting in a 32% reduction in monthly bills (from £63 to £43).

·                     At the school’s invitation, Dr David Glew, Reader of School of Built Environment & Engineering at Leeds Beckett University (d.w.glew@leedsbeckett.ac.uk), visited our school to carry out an energy analysis of the use of our swimming pool and general energy use of the school to see why efficiencies may be made and whether the swimming pool could be made more efficient.  His analysis of 8 years’ worth of electricity and oil/kerosene heating data use showed that we were getting value for money, but a significant initial outlay would be needed to install underground heating or solar panels. Dr Glew carried out his work for free.

·                     The school website underwent a thorough review and re-negotiation.  An initial estimate of £3000 was driven down to £2100.

·                     The age of the school resulted in a dire need for smartening up.  Painting contractors proved far beyond the budget available.  School staff along with a parent-volunteer and local community volunteer call was put out and the response was staggering, meaning that the school was able to be brightened up for just the cost of the paint and a few packets of biscuits – an unbelievably huge saving (upwards of £3k).

 

SFVS has been achieved every year since it was initiated – or at least we think it has because no-one ever tells us we haven’t.

 

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, but as previous noted, higher than anticipated outgoings have forced our school into a Licenced Deficit Budget Application.  Uses of Devolved Capital Balances are planned and in-line with the 3-Year Plan. 

 

After a huge amount of negotiating, a grant from the NYCC Strategic Planning Office was secured to erect a new perimeter fence.   Devolved Capital has been added to this fund amounting to some 15% of the overall costs. 

 

Whilst double glazing remains a priority, enclosing the dedicated Early Years play area and laying a soft flooring are now being planned and investigated.

 

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 (built in 1958 with a 30 year expected life, this year we are celebrating our Diamond Anniversary).  Any area of the premises that requires work is actioned as soon as the issue arises.  Recommendations from Health and Safety & Premises Sub-Committee inspections are actioned as a matter of priority.

 

Our most recent Safety Risk Advisor’s visit to the school on 23rd November 2018.  The Headteacher is most 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.  Most recently, three physical education courses filled by local school staff was held at this school with the highly regarded trainer travelling to the school. 

 

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 in previous years, 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

 

 

Improvements across the school continued throughout this year:

·         In addition to the perimeter fencing being installed in February 2019, an internal key-fob access system has been installed at a cost of £1k to further enhance our safeguarding procedures.  Our holdings of walkie-talkies also doubled to eight (£128) to further increase safeguarding communication.

·         Three new IT systems have been installed this year;

o   Child Protection Online Management System (CPOMS) is a significant addition to our safeguarding procedures.

o   GL Assessment has greatly benefitted the data analysis of the school.

o   Insight has given all teaching staff a greater tool to monitor children’s progress whilst at our school, even if they do not stay with us for very long – link to our mobility stats.

·         Undoubtedly our most significant spend this year amounted to just £75.  That was the total cost for the hire of a van which when added to a gang of industrious school staff were able over the course of 48 hours to almost completely re-furnish the school office, staff room, main corridor, main school foyer, every teachers desk and chair, Headteacher’s office, cupboard storage, first aid equipment, fireproof security lockers and endless amounts of stationery all procured from a business firm relocating.  By a very very rough estimate that £75, endeavour and sweat perhaps saved the school some £30k.  Externally the school looks 60 years old, internally it looks nearly new.   

 

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 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.  The NYCC Finance & Admin Conference on 25th September 2018 made reference to this submission of the SFVS being perhaps the final one, only to be replaced by some sort of in-depth data dashboard.  We look forward to receiving that system with great relish.

 

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 December 2018).  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 22nd May 2018 (Minute 177.14).

 

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.

 

The back-up computer system is 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 seventh, and perhaps final, 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.  We follow “best practice” as guided by the LA and Veritau at all times.

 

We, along with a huge percentage of educational settings, have had a tough financial year.  We were not blind to that situation throughout the year; we have already taken some tough decisions to claw back our budget, our Licenced Deficit Application has already been submitted and rejected.  The Headteacher and Chair of Governors hosted a meeting at school with the Head of School Finance (Mrs Sally Dunn) on 21st January 2019 regarding what to do next – without impacting on the children’s learning.  Despite this position, through no fault of the schools or any form of over spending or mismanagement, the Governing Body fully supports the Headteacher’s management of the school budget.

 

This completed document was seen and agreed by the Finance & Personnel Committee and authorised for submission by the Full Governing Body at their meeting on 5th February 2019 (Minute 181.11).

 

 Nigel Cross

 

Mr Nigel Cross

Chair of Governors

Linton-on-Ouse Primary School & Nursery

 

Date:    5th February 2019