A MORE professional approach to managing money is needed as a financial review of schools takes place.

Data from the last financial report discussed by Powys County Council’s cabinet, forecast that schools will be £2.5 million in deficit by the end of the financial year.

It could rise to £8.3 million by 2021.

Several schools have received “notices of concern” and are working with staff from the education service to look at ways of bringing their budgets under control.

But paying the money back will hamper schools’ ability to teach pupils.

At a meeting of the learning and skills committee, it was revealed that a more flexible approach will be taken with debt repayment.

School deficit budgets have been highlighted as an area of concern in the critical Estyn Inspection report published in September.

Education consultant, Geraint Rees, said: “There is a consultation underway  around the school finance regulations.

“At the moment the Powys finance framework of schools provides a limit of three years in which to repay.

“One of the proposals in the consultation is that the head of finance  and chief education officer should be able to evaluate the situation and come to an agreement with the governing body for a time frame for repayment.

“We need to make sure we don’t undermine a school’s existence just to clear up that debt.”

Mr Rees also said that a proposal being discussed is: if a child moves from one Powys school to another the money would follow the child.

  • In a financial year up to May 31, around £3,000 would be transferred
  • Before the end of September £2,000 would be transferred
  • By the end of January £1,000 would be transferred

Mr Rees continued: “It’s an important signal that resource should be for children.”

Mr Rees explained, that a way of becoming more professional would be to have a financial manager working across several schools now  known as “cluster bursars”.

Committee vice-chair and school governor, Angela Davies, added: “The cluster bursars are a fantastic idea and I have absolute proof that it works and there is nothing not to like about it.

“My school (Rhayader Primary School) was part of the Llandrindod cluster that had the funded pilot scheme to have a bursar.

“It has been used in this chamber as an example of good practice, so why haven’t we got one any more?

“We had four large primary school and three small primary schools in the cluster and the three small ones decided they could not afford to put (money) in the pot any more.

“You need buy in from all the schools in a cluster and we are gutted and missing that bursar.”

Education portfolio holder, Cllr Phyl Davies (Conservative – Blaen Hafren), said: “That’s the feedback we need, it’s evidential proof that it works.

“We’re talking about the reorganisation of schools and the importance of these roles within them.”

Mr Rees added: “What works needs to be celebrated better so people actually want to move on with initiatives like this.”