ICFP – A Learning Plumb Bob

ICFP – Integrated Curriculum Financial Planning.

Integrated Curriculum Financial Planning

Every so often something comes along that changes the landscape. Something that you just have to get out in front of. Something that can’t be ignored…ICFP

I’ve been grappling with it for nearly five months now and, try as I might, I can’t describe it as a learning curve. There has been no curve. It’s a straight up, shoot-for-the-moon, vertical line. It’s not new, having been around for a few years in a variety of guises while everyone figured out what it could offer. What is new is the importance that everyone in education is now placing on the metrics and how vital it is that you, as an SBL, get on board.

I will also admit that it is only this week that I have fully grasped the gravity of the situation. This isn’t something for Trustees or Governors, SLTs, Headteachers or CEOs. This isn’t for the curriculum planners, timetablers or consultants. This is being laid very firmly at the feet of the SBL.


Basically, your job is on the line.

So, turn the page of your to-do list pad and write at the very top. Priority number one…


Firstly, In the words of Douglas Adams “Don’t Panic”.

You can do this.

It is just a question of gathering certain metrics that you will have in your school. You might need the help of your curriculum lead (I know I did – thank you Andy) and you need to start with the following information;

  • Average teacher cost
  • Cost of senior leaders as a percentage of workforce
  • Pupil to Teacher ratio
  • Pupil to adult ratio
  • Teacher contact ratio
  • Average class size

Along with other, easily to hand calculations such as ‘Spend on education support staff as a percentage of total expenditure’. (Note – if, like me, you were used to doing everything as a percentage of total income, accept the change and make the move to total expenditure, otherwise the benchmarking is shot to pieces. Live with it.)

Don’t be put off…

The trickiest calculation (I think) but one of the most important is the Teacher contact ratio. You need to calculate the amount of time your total teaching staff body (so including those who don’t teach) spends in front of the classroom. The answer should ideally be about 0.78 (according to ASCL – and generally accepted).

You’ll need to take the number of teaching periods that are timetabled each week. (I know this is not so obvious if you are a primary school, use the STPC part time pro-rata of 5 per day (3 in the morning, 2 in the afternoon)) divided by the maximum number of teaching periods that are available (calculated by taking the total teaching FTE and multiplying by the number periods in a week e.g. 25)

When you’ve got all this, you then take all this information and key it into the .Gov’s ‘School Resource Management Self Assessment Tool’ Here’s a helpful link

This will then offer you a set of useful RAG rated benchmarked information to start the conversation with your SLT and inspire you to research all the other tools and advice that is currently out there.

OK, I hear you ask. Why the big drama? This seems quite straightforward.

You’re right, it is.

The crucial thing to recently dawn on me is that if your school is out of kilter with the accepted metrics it is up to you to do something about it. If it all heads south on the balanced budget front, your defence of “The CEO/HT wanted to do it this way” is not going to cut it.


…are responsible for the finances of your school. If your school is overstaffed on teachers or support, YOU need to understand why and help your SLT work towards bringing it back towards the accepted benchmark.

As a colleague on #SBLTwitter observed this week. When it all hits the fan, it’s not the CEOs, Headteachers or Accounting Officers that are losing their jobs, it’s the SBLs and FDs.

So, my advice, get onto it and, if you have any questions, please do ask.

You’ve got this.

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