5. Julie Cordiner, Independent Education Funding Consultant

Reading Time: 3 minutes

For this episode Tim Warneford speaks online via Skype to Julie Cordiner, Independent Education Funding Consultant about her work in education finance for schools and academies, the successes and the struggles of the schools academies sector and her passion for education. 


On this episode we cover:


How education was her own route out of poverty

Education being her passion

Opportunities for children they wouldn’t otherwise have

Working in education for 30 years

Being drawn into special needs

Returning to the finance side

School leaders starting off as teachers or admin

Being very little specific training in financial management side

Being on a mission to raise the profile in financial leadership

Drawing together fragmented information and making it easier to access

Tim working in social housing

Seeing the link between environment and output

Some schools not providing the optimal learning environment

School leaders being thrown into a massive responsibilities

Not being able to be an expert in everything

Knowing where to find the right people with those specialisms

Seeing a lot of school business managers struggling


Where Julie sees the successes the academy system has brought


Julie’s experience being mixed across LEA and academies

Academies having been successful when they have a strategic grip on their distinct things

DFEA being a bit misleading about the extent on the freedoms of academies

Where freedoms have been used they have been innovative

Academies being open about collaborating

Seeing some great MAT examples with special needs and disadvantages pupils

The choice of centralisation versus local autonomy

Some MATs doing aggregated procurement well

Some MATs having a good pool of school improvement specialists

The plight of the primary school that doesn’t want to be in a MAT

The difficulty of smaller primaries struggling with the emphasis on amount per pupil

The national funding formula brought the funding down

How it’s not only academies that can collaborate

Some LEA school collaborating with education partnerships

Schools engaging the community and using out of hours for revenue streams

Schools developing an income generating strategy

How understanding the community is very important


Where Julie sees the negative aspect of academy system:


DFE’s willingness to recognise the sector needs more money

2015-17 particular drain on resources

A huge brake on any responsiveness to changes in need

For the third year running there’s an increase in children with additional needs

The level of funding and the distribution of it just not doing the job

Frustration that academies is seen as the answer to everything

Schools are schools – not much difference between academies and LEA schools on a day to day basis

The government pitting one set of schools against another

Some LEA schools and academies working well together

‘Appalling waste’ in the DFE

The UK Statistics Authority wading in

‘Most academies living hand to mouth and can’t provide the basics’

Condition improvement funding being almost means tested

The majority of schools being in some sort of deficit

The poorer schools being continually punished

Schools being pushed into larger trusts for DFE convenience

The bigger trust getting school condition allocations not being subjected to an SRMA visit

The pressure on small trusts being pushed into larger ones by the DFE

Lord Agnew having a skewed view of waste in schools

Being far better to give schools the skills to do their own SRMA

How building capacity is the way to go

Tim talking to the ISBL about owing a duty of debt to the 14,000 schools yet to academise

Julie not accepting that all 14,000 LEA schools will eventually become academies

Lots of schools doing very well without become an academy

Needing greater understanding about serving all types of schools

Julie suggesting a forum where school leaders could share their biggest concerns

More joint approaches needed

Suppliers and professionals needing to get together and collect best-practice case-studies

Julie’s aim to help schools and academies understand what effective financial leadership means; being about achieving sustainable budgets, equipping governors to challenge and support better, wanting to try to make DFE see that they need to trust in the sector more, believe it when the sector say they need funding and top interfering at the operation level and instead focus on giving a strategic framework with core funding predictions

Julie’s book – Forecasting Your Schools Funding

The sector just wishing to be heard

DFE operating on a very minimal capacity

As yet being no spending settlement

The sector being in a funding crisis