Plan your next budget with Arbor’s Schools Financial Benchmarking Report

Rebecca Watkins - 29 January, 2019

Category : Blog

Plan your next budget with Arbor’s Schools Financial Benchmarking Report

We’ve just released our 2017/18 Schools Financial Benchmarking report for all schools in England! Like all Arbor Insight reports, Arbor’s Financial Benchmarking report uses colour coding, call-outs written in plain English, and specific benchmarks to give you a clear picture of your spend & income, even for those not used to working with data. Thousands

We’ve just released our 2017/18 Schools Financial Benchmarking report for all schools in England!

Like all Arbor Insight reports, Arbor’s Financial Benchmarking report uses colour coding, call-outs written in plain English, and specific benchmarks to give you a clear picture of your spend & income, even for those not used to working with data. Thousands of schools up and down the country use our Financial Benchmarking report to help plan next year’s budget, and explain their spending to SLT & governors.

The report is broken down into clear sections, with a diagram per measure on spend and income. Trends show how income and spend has changed over time, helping you to plan next year’s budget informed by your school’s data.

As well as showing spend and income as an exact figure, as a percentage of total funds allocated and per pupil, we’ve built specific benchmarks for this report to give your financial data additional context. Along with benchmarking you against the national average, the Financial Benchmarking report also benchmarks each measure against schools in your LA and schools that are ‘like you’.    

How we derived LA and National averages:

Arbor benchmarks your school against a variety of measures, helping you to analyse your budget in a wider context. We’ve only compared your school to the averages for other primary, secondary, or special schools (depending on your school type), to make the comparisons in the report more meaningful. After all, a primary school’s spend is different to that of a secondary school, which will also be different to that of a special school. An average that included all three wouldn’t be accurate!

How we created the ‘schools like you’ benchmark:

We created the ‘schools like you’ measure to give you the most meaningful comparison for your school. First, we filtered by schools of your type (primary, secondary, or special) for the reasons mentioned above. Then, we filtered by schools who were inside/outside London, as this changes your cost structure. Next we filtered by size, ensuring that your school is compared to schools with a similar number of pupils. Finally we took your FSM, SEN and EAL data, weighted them based on the size of the attainment gaps at KS2, and combined them into a baseline score to find schools with similar demographic intakes to your school.

For example, if you’re a large rural secondary school with a lot of FSM students, your spending in each area will be benchmarked against other large rural secondary schools with a lot of FSM students. The schools ‘like you’ measure helps you account for your specific circumstances and understand why your spending might be above or below average.

Image 1: Example page, graphing overall spend

On this page the simple, digestible call outs explain how the school compares to schools like them and the national average on each section of spend at the school.

Image 2: Example Spend page, focusing in on maintenance and improvement

Bar graphs show the spend of each section as a percentage of total spend, while the line graph depicts not only the exact spend figure but how it has changed over 3 years compared with schools like you, schools in your LA and the national average. The grey arrows show the overall calculation of how much this figure has changed.

Image 3: Example Funding page – Grant Funding: Targeted Grants

Funding pages have the same layout as spend pages. Again, colour coding for trends and bar graphs makes your data easy to understand. You can quickly see if your level of funding is in line with what it should be, and if there are any areas of concern that need to be addressed when planning next year’s budget.

If you’re a current user, you can log in to view your updated dashboards and purchase your reports immediately here: https://login.arbor.sc/auth/login

If you don’t already use Arbor Insight, click here to sign up & view your performance dashboards and purchase your Financial & ASP reports: https://login.arbor.sc/auth/register