The Department for Education (DfE) has recently rolled out it's ‘school resource management advisors’ to maintained schools and local authorities. Details of the DfE’s school resource management processes. 

The approach taken by DfE school resource management advisors is to compare schools and academy trusts with a ‘basket’ of schools with a comparable pupil cohort and resources – in other words, a pupil population with similar characteristics (such as additional needs) and schools with similar age premises. Costs are then compared with the average across the basket of schools.

The NASUWT has commented to the DfE that such an approach is a ‘race to the middle’ and that schools with similar pupil cohorts and similar buildings can have very different costs, not least because staffing costs correlate closely with the age of the workforce. An older workforce tends to be more expensive than a younger workforce, but an age mixed workforce is necessary to give schools stability, maintain and raise standards.

The NASUWT has expressed concern to the DfE that schools could be inappropriately advised to cut staffing costs, against the interests of school standards and also the workforce.

The NASUWT has also expressed concern about the DfE’s promotion of Integrated Curriculum and Financial Planning (ICFP). At worst, this can be an inflexible model which leads to unnecessary teacher redundancies in response to minor changes to the curriculum offer or the numbers of pupils opting for different subjects.

The NASUWT has further expressed concern about reports which the Union has received that school resource management advisors tend to promote the role of school business managers, including in schools with already large leadership teams which do not focus on teaching and learning.

NASUWT representatives should, if necessary, draw to the attention of schools, local authorities and academy trusts, the following:

  • School resource management advisors generally provide advice about the DfE’s benchmarking tools and this is different from statutory financial guidance. The DfE benchmarking tools simply allow governing boards to compare their school or academy trust with others.
  • The governing board of the school or academy trust remains responsible for its finances, including whether to accept or reject the advice from the school resource management advisor.
  • The NASUWT does not accept advice from a school resource management advisor which leads to job loss.
  • The DfE has accepted the NASUWT’s argument that ‘one size does not fit all’ and that the needs of schools can vary greatly across schools that the DfE treats as in the same ‘basket.’ School resource management advisors must also accept this.

The NASUWT would welcome receiving feedback from representatives about the DfE’s school resource management processes, including school resource management advisors. To feedback, please email [email protected], including ‘DfE school resource management’ in the subject line.