A budget plan
You produce this using the template provided by the DfE. The information provided in your budget plan should be consistent with other parts of your application e.g. the staffing structure and pupil numbers in the education plan should match the figures in your budget.
In the 'Notes/assumptions' column of the DfE's financial template, or in a narrative in the main application form, you should explain your approach to completing the financial template, and the thinking behind decisions you have made. As part of this, you need to clearly explain the assumptions you have made about income and expenditure and show that these are both realistic and appropriate – for example, by saying that you have based these on the budget of a similar school to your proposed school.
As an AP free school, you will need to include in your budget the top-up funding that you will charge commissioners for places at your school, and the rationale behind this.
In order to reassure the DfE that your school will be financially viable, you will need commitments from commissioners in Section E of your application showing how many FTE referrals they will make each academic year, and a commitment to the top-up funding you require.
This part of the application is likely to take a significant amount of time to complete since it should reflect and be developed in conjunction with your educational and staffing plan, and will almost certainly need a number of drafts.
You should therefore ensure that you dedicate enough time and resources to it in order to be able to do this successfully. The DfE will see the quality of your financial plans as an indicator of the financial expertise within your group as well as whether your free school would be financially viable. If you cannot convince the DfE that your free school would be financially sound or that that you have the capacity to make effective financial decisions, then you are extremely unlikely to be approved.
Other useful resources:
- NSN's AP handbook - detailed section-by-section guidance on the application
- NSN guidance on completing your budget plan
- NSN's video walk-through of each section takes you through filling in the financial template
- Financial benchmarking website for schools: This can be accessed using a Guest Login.
- School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document (Reference:DFE-00091-2012) this gives details of current national teachers’ pay scales and conditions
- DfE AP revenue funding guide - outlines revenue funding for APs for 2015-16
- The Education Funding Agency has training videos that explain how academies are funded.
- You can also see relative spending by local authorities here
- Academy expenditure can be downloaded from this page
- NSN's library of resources for Open and pre-open free schools has a wide range of resources relating to finance issues specific to free schools.
- Schools financial health and efficiency - DfE collection of information, tools, training and guidance to help schools improve their financial management and efficiency.