In 2017 the DfE commissioned the Institute of School Business Leadership to carry out a pilot programme aimed at recruiting, inducting and accrediting school resource management advisers (SRMAs). The pilot took place over spring and summer of 2018, and involved the ISBL working alongside the Education and Skills Funding Agency.
SRMAs are required to possess extensive practical experience and current knowledge of the education sector, since their role is to act as school business experts. SRMAs have already been deployed into both academy trusts and LA-maintained schools that have come to the DfE’s attention for being in poor financial health, using their expertise to assist trusts and schools with restoring their financial position.
Every SRMA looks to maximise the use of a school’s resources in order to deliver positive educational outcomes, which may include effectively integrating curriculum and financial planning. SRMAs are charged with viewing a setting’s financial situation holistically and considering a number of different issues. Those can include schools’ HR, curriculum delivery, workforce planning, use of staff and leadership time, governance, financial resources and estate management.
To date, the evaluation and impact of the role has been positive. The Secretary of State for Education and School Systems Minister, Lord Agnew, have both shown a keen interest in the programme, meeting with members of the team, including the two SRMAs quoted here:
“I started my first deployment in a secondary academy of a large MAT and undertook a desktop analysis – not to establish and decide the solution, but rather to identify elements that needed to be part of the conversation with them. The principal and Trust officers were appreciative of the support and suggestions to forge a way forward for the benefit of the students. After all, that’s why we’re doing this in the first place.”
– Andy Hamilton, Ash House Consultancy
“SRMAs can look for the opportunity to ‘do something different’ with key performance indicators, providing a good starting point for understanding the organisation.
“The purpose of the role is to help maximise resources, reduce duplication of work and ensure that there’s a stable and realistic plan in place to move forward. I’m a firm believer that by sharing knowledge and supporting others, we can continue to improve outcomes for children.”
– Sheryl Cardwell, Director, business and finance at Waterloo Primary Academy
In terms of what happens next, the DfE is planning a full roll-out this autumn, having opened an invitation to tender for the programme in August this year. Those wishing to obtain further information regarding the project should email [email protected].
Sarah Ray is professional development specialist at the Institute for School Business Leadership.