The School Fruit and Veg Scheme

pka (or ‘properly known as’) School financial value standards

Following on from last week’s Blog, we are about to present the annual SFVS self-evaluation to Governors. Nothing stays the same for long as it is in a new format this year. Front section is all Yes / No / In part answers to question. These are all worded slightly differently to previous versions and so a simple ‘copy and paste’ will not do.

The back provides (another) set of comparative data fields. These will allow or encourage Governors to discuss their aims in setting and targeting a budget. It will allow us to consider if we spend our income where we want to in order to achieve what we are after.

However …

The problem is that anomalies are not easily removed, income cannot be easily or significantly raised and some data is simply contradictory. It is all true, no doubt, but not at all simple.

That we spend 55% of income on teacher costs puts us in the top 10% of ‘similar’ schools. Two points here – who says that that’s a bad thing, seeing as we get results in the top 20% of schools? And how are we to reduce teacher costs by 5% to get to average; by losing two teachers?

The number of senior leaders (two) for a school of our size (480 plus pupils) puts us in the very low end of things. But to increase the team would certainly increase that percentage spent on teachers!

There is a novel calculation, an expression of pupil contact for each teacher, made by dividing the number of classes by the full-time equivalent number of teachers. Our figure is so high it is flagged as a risk, and requires investigation and action. So we either need fewer classes (bigger classes if we have the same number of pupils) or more teachers, and we know what that would do to the percentage spend on teacher costs!

Our average class size puts us in the top 20% as well (which is not where you want to be, in fact, but it does suggest financial efficiency) but with the ludicrous figure of 30.2 pupils per class. 0.2 indeed! To reduce the class size to the average for ‘similar’ schools we would need to have 4 fewer pupils or 0.13 classes more. Both of these are impossible – I try my best to avoid the admission of any extra pupils over admission number but Appeal Panels sometimes place children with us. How would we run a class for just 4 hours a week?

This odd state of affairs comes about really from two factors: we are currently the lowest funded (per pupil) school in Sheffield, and we have a very, very stable staff who are, me included, at the top of the pay range. Recognising the issues does not make a solution any easier – it is no simple thing to increase our income by £100,000 per year, nor to suddenly employ eight newly qualified teachers when we have none currently.

It’ll make for an interesting discussion when presented, but won’t lead to any significant changes: we have no vacancies to fill cheaply, and we have no room for extra pupils.

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