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The financial aspects of running an academy trust have increasingly moved up the agenda as funds become constrained, costs continue to increase and the number of pupils rises. Providing excellent education to children of the local community must always be at the front of a trust's decision making. However, the trust can only do this if it is financially viable and has the resources to implement its plans.
The often promoted idea of procuring goods and services more effectively to save money is necessary but will not be adequate to deliver the level of savings required to balance the books. All staffing costs need to be reviewed, not just support staff. Delivering the curriculum more efficiently should be considered including class sizes, the range of subject options and the potential of IT to transform teaching and learning.
Trusts need to consider whether they have an efficient and effective organisation. Are the management structures optimised? Are the support, finance and administration functions appropriate? Does the trust need to expand or be reorganised to enable a higher proportion of funding to be directed to education delivery?
The shape of the trust needs to be considered and the opportunities for economies of scale across its activities need to be explored. How IT can play its part should also be understood. Being financially secure is the foundation of any organisation and is just as important for academy trusts.