10. Janice Finnimore, School Business Manager, Eggers Secondary School, Alton, Hampshire

Reading Time: 2 minutes

On episode 10, Tim Warneford is in Alton, Hampshire, talking to Janice Finnimore, Schools Business Manager for Eggers Secondary School, about the challenges and lessons learned from being an early converter to a stand-alone academy and why Janice feels that being a stand-alone academy can offer a lot of benefit.


On this episode we cover:


The challenges of being part of an early converter to an academy

The lessons learnt from decisions made

Exploring the freedoms of converting to an academy

Additional funding initially being available

Benefiting from economies of scale in the local authority

Now feeling more confident about challenging services they buy into

Working on the maintained side and academy side

Learning a lot of things the hard way

But making some wise decisions

Juggling many plates now with the school being a business

Business managers most often being women

Being a close knit community doing lots of networking

Emerging of the security of the local authority umbrella

Engaging an independent health and safety manager

Engaging an independent fire risk assessor

Worrying findings in fire safety (that were not in consideration of the LEA)

Condition Improvement Funding (CIF)

Enjoying freedoms such as being flexible on the curriculum and changing the timings of the school day

Constraints, however, with the depth of the audits they are now exposed to

Audits going from once every three years to themed audits

Responsible officer visits and thorough checks on finances once a term

Having had successes with CIF funding

However a frustration being needing inject a contribution

Business managers allocating a lot of time to bid writing

Being very comfortable being a stand alone academy

Not aspiring to expand in the short-term

Having to make some very tough budget decisions

Reducing staffing through natural wastage

Such cuts impacting on staff morale and wellbeing

Seeing MATs as mini-local authorities

Newest acquisition being an astro-turf pitch

Raising around £25,000 year from letting a trampoline group use the sports hall

Very much seeing themselves as a community school

The local cadets using the hard courts free of charge

Launching a crowd-funding page for drama studio refurbishment

Funding a brand new refectory

The biggest obstacles in schools being lack of funding

The DFE feeling they are putting more money into schools but this is not the case in reality

Being very proud of the successful CIF bids

Appreciating the economy of scale that a MAT can provide but that MATs will be careful about which schools come on board