“As a teacher in a small rural primary school, I have responsibility for my class budget and the three subjects I lead. Much of my non-contact time is spent on stock-taking, researching purchases, ordering resources and managing invoices and receipts, rather than thorough book-marking, producing detailed plans for differentiated lessons or creating engaging resources for my pupils.”
Does this sound familiar?
This is frustrating at best and a barrier to providing the best education for pupils at worst.
Every teacher is going to have to be responsible for part of their school’s finances at some time. It’s unlikely that any training in this area will have been provided and they may be very little in the way of advice or support in many settings. This not only causes stress for teachers but can put a strain on the admin staff trying to keep on top of the school’s overall budget and spending.
It’s time to relieve the admin pressure on teachers and make improvements for all those in charge of admin, budgets and spending.
The challenges involved in managing a school’s budget
“As the school’s bursar, I find it so tricky to support staff with their spending. I end up juggling paper receipts and invoices and updating budgets for everyone. I’m also often wondering if they’ve got the best deals on their purchases. Teachers are making decisions they believe are best for their class, but they might not be the best decisions for the school’s spending and budget.”
Does this ring a bell?
Time is often wasted for school admin staff, as they chase individuals and try to keep up with their spending. With everyone making purchases using different processes, it can be difficult to effectively manage a school’s budget.
Then there’s supplier invoice processing to keep the taxman at bay. It needs to be done, of course, but it means the school is spending money to spend money! Surely that isn’t healthy for the school’s already very tight budget?
Ensuring value for money when procuring resources is, of course, paramount. But value for money also needs to be clearly demonstrated by those putting forward a case for funding in a certain area, or by those presenting a school budget breakdown for the school governors.
A system that works for all staff who spend in school and a system that keeps a clear track of all spending in school would be ideal, right?
So, what’s the solution for effective school budgeting?
There are several tips for relieving the financial admin pressures on school staff and supporting those with spending and budget responsibilities.
Provide training for staff
Offer simple training and guidance to all those managing a budget for the first time. Schools could use a buddy system so that teachers managing a budget have a more experienced member of staff to speak to for advice.
Linking spending to the School Improvement Plan (SIP)
Take a targeted approach to spending and link the budget allocation to the SIP. If funds are limited in the school year, then ensure they are being spent in line with the pupils, projects or curriculum areas that have been identified as a priority.
Use budget request forms
Using standardised budget request forms is a great way of getting teachers requesting funding to consider their budget requirements and make sure they cover everything they need for particular projects, trips, and so on.
Hold budget monitoring meetings
Regular, timely meetings involving those with school budget responsibilities will mean that everyone can keep up to date with spending, share best practices and ask questions about managing a budget.
Invest in an Accounts Payable Automation software solution
A piece of software that makes it easy to track school spending data and process invoices is the answer. Some may even go through without anyone having to do any work! (touchless invoices.) No pieces of paper would be lost en route from the classroom to the school office. Doesn’t that sound great?
An effective approach that enables staff to make fully digital purchases (like they would at home) makes a huge difference. In this case, the order is digital, the purchase approval is digital (control spend with POs!), and the invoice is digital. What’s more, staff members don’t all have to purchase from the same supplier. Now we’re talking!
And wouldn’t it be great if suppliers sent you e-invoices cutting down on paperwork? It also saves time and money; the faster you receive the invoice, the faster they get paid, and they wouldn’t have to pay printing and postage. So they’ll definitely be on board!
There’s clearly a need to better support teachers in this area of school admin. We hope these tips will help. If you take away one thing from this post though, it’s that one simple piece of software really can make all the difference to relieving the admin pressures on class teachers, freeing them up to do the job they’re there to do- teach!
Ready to chat about an AP Automation solution?