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Key Elements (Primary): Managing the Budget

This page has been archived. The content was correct at the time of original publication, but is no longer updated.
Created on 18 November 2009 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 07 April 2010 by ncetm_administrator

Features of effective practice

An effective budgeting strategy:
  • specifies the budget in terms of two elements – one which is dedicated to consumables (eg. textbooks and stationery) and the other dedicated to resourcing the developmental needs of the staff (eg. teaching and learning projects, peer observation, joint planning, etc.)
  • allocates funding strategically in order to support the priorities in the Mathematics Improvement Plan
  • links funds to specified actions within the Improvement Plan so that the budget is a tool which services the needs of the plan
  • ensures that the budget is regularly reviewed to check that the needs of the schools are being met
  • provides for regular liaison between the subject leader and the school’s finance officer

Case Study 1: School A – Strategic Planning

I have found it useful to establish a spreadsheet to support budgeting in the long-term (the current academic year and beyond), medium-term (this academic year) and short term (each quarter).

Strategic Planning

Medium term budget


    2008-09  Total
April   July  Nov  March £2 000
 Teaching resources including consumables    100 100   200 
 Learning resources    400     400
 Mathematics SpecificICT resources    250      250
 An event such as maths week or external speaker  0  0 400  0  400
 Subject Leaders release time  150  150  150  150  600
 Contingency        150  150
   150 900 650 300  
     Balance  £0

Short term example (2nd Quarter, July - November)

  2nd Quarter
Teaching resources including consumables  
Paper, protractors, rulers, scissors 100
Learning resources  
Small resources 200
Multilink cubes 200
ICT Resources  
Primary Games Site Licence 150
Digital Blue Cameras 100
Class sets of calculators  
Subject Leader release time  
Subject Leader release time 150

The CPD part of the budget links directly to the identified priorities in my Mathematics Improvement Plan. This quarter will account for one of the planned days for me to carry out a work scrutiny (see Improvement Plan below). The ‘Data analysis’ took place in the Summer Term (1st Quarter) and ‘Pupil conferencing’ will appear in the 3rd Quarter plans in the Medium Term Plan.

 3rd Quarter Plan

Case Study 2: School B – Getting the Most From a Small Budget

I am a subject leader in a small rural primary school. My budget for mathematics is very small compared to other subject leaders in my cluster. Here are some top tips of how to get the most from a small budget:

1. Mathematics Action Plan: when requesting funds for the following year always refer to your School development plan and your mathematics action plan as a starting point. This will highlight what you need to buy and the reasons for this.
2. Consultation: consult your staff as to what their needs are.
3. Audit: make sure you have a clear idea of the resources you currently have. Things can get hidden away or things that may have become unfashionable may now be useful again.
4. Prioritise: once you are ready to start buying resources, prioritising is a key aspect. Things can add up very quickly. You need to ask yourself the question, ‘Is it better to buy a few items for each area of mathematics, or is it better to focus on one section, eg. Shape and Space?’
5. Planning: with the majority of schools using the Primary Framework to plan, this means that units may be covered at similar times, ie. everyone will be covering Unit A at the same time. The subject leader will need to think carefully about what impact this will have on resources. This is often the case when it comes to measuring.
6. Shop around: as a subject leader you are bombarded with offers all the time for resources. It is always best to look around and ring up to see what offers are available. When you are buying in bulk, companies are very happy to give discounts.
7. Creative: as primary budgets can be small, do not be afraid to consult with your head if things can be taken from other areas, eg. assessment can have a heavy budget line where materials like Testbase or revision guides can be taken from.
8. Be clear: budgets are not usually carried forward, so be very clear as to how much money you have left and what is going to happen to it.


Case Study 3: School C – A Calendar of Spending!

In my school, budgets are set by the Head and Business Manager. Unless there is a specific focus for the year, the allocation is set each year at the same amount for mathematics and literacy which are seen as priority subjects. I have £500 to spend each year for mathematics and this focuses primarily on resources. CPD is allocated a separate line in our budget and this is distributed according to the needs of the school at the time. I have described below how I manage my set budget, using particular examples from last year:

Staff: The Headteacher and I map out the CPD needs in mathematics for staff. We had a new member of staff so sending them to Primary Framework training was a priority. I checked out whether the course was free and also if supply was paid for. Make sure you do this and always ensure that your staff register for the course as this will guarantee supply funds are refunded.

Financial Year: As the School Financial year runs at odds to the School year this can present some interesting hurdles to managing your budget. Rightly or wrongly, I still manage my budget in relation to the school year. This is something which is effective for me but also enables me to be aware of what actions I am taking year on year:

June/July: I review my school data. This helps to feed in and create my Mathematics Improvement Plan. If the data has revealed some large areas of concern then mathematics will become a priority for the school development plan. Funds can then be moved around to offset this.

September: Having a completed action plan, I am now able to ascertain what we need. This year the whole of my resource area needed a review. I started the process by having a mass clearout as part of a staff meeting. We threw out a lot of stuff and discovered items which had not been used and were now useful. I then asked staff to complete a questionnaire to help me ascertain what their priorities were for resources. Having analysed this, I could then match this to my Mathematics Improvement Plan. This year the focus was on problem solving.

October: I ordered the resources. Primarily the focus was on mathematics games so I was able to order from one supplier who gave a hefty discount. I kept back £100 as this would help with any additional needs which arose through the year.

January: I review mid term data to see if this highlighted any priorities for the budget.  It was clear that intervention needed to be provided. I was able to use the £100 left in our budget to fund Teaching Assistants to run Booster groups.

March: As the end of the financial year approaches, I ensure that I have managed my budget well. Keep up to date from your school secretary or business manager.

What does Ofsted say?

The report Mathematics:understanding the score offers a range of external perspectives, examples of good practice and indications of national trends and standards which can be very helpful to a subject leader.

While there are no paragraphs specifically related to managing the budget, you can download the report from the Ofsted website.

Reflection and next steps

  • reflect on the features of effective practice and think about what key areas within ‘Managing the budget’ you want to develop now
  • look through the case studies and the excerpts from the Ofsted report Mathematics: understanding the score and decide whether there are any tasks or actions you might want to take that are prompted by these
  • use the NCETM Personal Learning Space to record any personal reflections, actions or tasks
  • from policy to practice

Use this pro-forma to support you in planning your next steps.

Going further

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