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Should the curriculum drive the budget or the budget drive the curriculum?



Should the curriculum drive the budget or the budget drive the curriculum?


For headteachers and governors there is a fine line between balancing the budget and being able to sustain an enriched and fit-for-purpose curriculum enabling the best outcomes for pupils.


The curriculum is strongly linked to pupil factors and current staffing levels, which is the most expensive part of the budget, but is the core business. Staffing totals are 70% to 80% of your allocated budget costs. Governors and senior leaders need to ensure that the curriculum is staffed as efficiently as possible and future-proofed for the next few cohorts coming through the school.


Teaching is the most important element of a school and having the curriculum to match pupil needs is the highest priority. Schools should start with building the curriculum they want and then tweaking it if it is not affordable or sustainable.


With schools facing tighter budgets due to increased staffing costs, it is important for the person setting the timetable to work closely with the Business Manager once the curriculum is built to ensure that it is financially viable. There are some key ratios that need to be calculated in relation to curriculum efficiency. These are:


• Teaching staff as a proportion of the budget

• Pupil v staff ratio

• Contact ratio

• Cost per lesson/period


Establishing these ratios will give an indication of how efficiently built your curriculum is.


Governors need to scrutinise the ratios and benchmark against other similar schools to ensure the school is efficiently staffed with both teaching and non-teaching staff. If there are marked differences compared with similar schools, these need to be investigated to understand what the differences are and how your school can benefit from working more efficiently. Further information on benchmarking can be found here.


Other costs need to be reviewed at least annually to ensure best value so that money is spent where it should be, on the pupils’ curriculum needs.


If your curriculum is unachievable financially, difficult decisions will need to be made, ensuring that the pupils get the best possible outcomes.


By using the DfE toolkit, you can support decision making in your school by asking the probing questions necessary to ensure viability and a sustainable curriculum for years to come.




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