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 a special free school, you will need to include in your budget the top-up funding that you will charge Local Authorities who are placing pupils with a statement/ EHC Plan at your school. In order to reassure the DfE that your school will be financially viable, you will therefore need commitments to the top-up funding you require.
Besides developing your education plan, this section of the application form is likely to take the most amount of time to complete, since it should reflect and be developed in conjuction with your education and staffing plan, and will almost certainly need a number of iterations.
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 you have the capacity to make effective financial descisions, then you are extremely unlikely to be approved.
Other useful resources:
- We have produced guidance about completing your budget plan
- Detailed section-by-section guidance can be found in our special handbook
- When you are ready to fill in your budget template use our video walk-through of each section
- School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document: this gives details of current national teachers’ pay scales and conditions
- The Academies Financial Handbook 2013 describes the financial management and control requirements for academy trusts arising from their funding agreement with the Secretary of State for Education
- Financial benchmarking website for schools: This can be accessed using a Guest Login.
- The Education and Skills Funding Agency has training videos that explain how academies are funded and provide bite-size updates about different elements of schools funding.
- Academy expenditure can be downloaded from this page
- You can also see relative spending by local authorities here
- 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.