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How Reliable Is Your School’s Staff Expenses Procedure?

February 20, 2019, 8:20 GMT+1
Read in about 4 minutes
  • Caroline Collins runs through the essentials that ought to underpin your staff expenses system...
How Reliable Is Your School’s Staff Expenses Procedure?

Sending staff out on external CPD opportunities is becoming more of a luxury than a necessity these days, as schools battle with shrinking budgets and higher staffing costs.

Many SBMs will say that their CPD budget is among the first areas to be cut, and that new procedures now ensure that staff receive the CPD they need whilst ensuring the CPD budget remains balanced.

A model that a number of schools have decided to adopt is that of sending only one person to an event on the understanding that he or she will then deliver the training back at school to other staff members. If your school is able to send staff members out to seminars, conferences and other events, those trips must be cost-effective.

When teaching staff attend events, consideration often isn’t given to the cost of supply cover; combined with the cost of the course and any expenses the teacher claims, it can turn out to be an expensive day.

When a classroom-based staff member requests attendance at an event, the school should look at:

  • The cost of the event
  • Whether the event links to their performance management
  • The likelihood of the event providing sufficient outcomes
  • Whether cover will be needed (and if so, the costs involved)
  • The travel time needed to attend and the possibility of the teacher being reimbursed their expenses

By linking those together, you should be able to decide if the course is value for money and financially viable.

Schools should have clear policies on CPD and staff expenses, with the latter outlining what is and isn’t acceptable for reimbursement. Ensure your CPD policy references the expenses policy, so that staff know from the outset what it means for them.

A point that often gets overlooked is that travel reimbursement claims may only be made from a workplace address, not a home address – if a member of staff is claiming mileage, make sure those miles are from the school’s postcode to the venue’s postcode.

Governors ought to decide how much per mile can be reclaimed. This will often be around 45p per mile, which should be included in the policy along with a written statement that reimbursements will only be made where receipts are provided.

Fuel claims can prove tricky, however, because it’s highly unlikely that the member of staff will fill up with fuel on the day of the event. You might want to explain that you’ll accept receipts with a different date, but within a specific timeframe – I’d personally recommend that this be no more than one month after the date of the CPD.

A good policy will clarify who can claim what. Ensure that there’s no differentiation between teaching and non-teaching staff members, explain how to claim, state how long it will take for reimbursements to be made and make it clear that reimbursements will not be made if receipts aren’t provided.

The SLT should work together on making sure that staff are provided with the CPD they need, while also keeping costs down. Find a procedure that works for your school, implement an effective policy and make sure your staff know about it.

Caroline Collins is head of school business strategy and resources at Miles Coverdale Primary School.

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