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https://buyingforschools.blog.gov.uk/2023/10/04/how-can-school-resource-management-advisers-srmas-help-you/

How can School Resource Management Advisers (SRMAs) help you?

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Lindsey Roberts is an Engagement and Outreach Coordinator in the School Resource Management team at the Department for Education (DfE). In this blog post, Lindsey explains how the DfE's School Resource Management Adviser (SRMA) programme can support you with managing your school or academy trust’s finances or resources.

What is the School Resource Management Adviser (SRMA) programme?

The SRMA programme provides free, independent and tailored advice and support from experts in this field.

The programme is open to all local authorities, maintained schools, and academy trusts that would welcome peer-to-peer advice and support, whatever your financial position.

A quote from Andrew Taylor, Headteacher at St Gabriel’s in Rugby which reads “So one of the great things about the programme is, it costs the school nothing, and we get some really valuable advice for that, that you know if we were trying to source that on our own, would cost us quite a bit of money.”

Why would I request an SRMA?

SRMAs are independent advisers who have significant experience of school or academy trust business management and have undergone a challenging accreditation process. SRMAs may be practicing school or academy trust business managers, school leaders, or consultants working for themselves or for an education consultancy organisation.

Your SRMA’s skills and experience will be matched to your specific context. SRMAs work with schools, academy trusts and local authorities across all types of educational settings with a range of different needs, in all financial circumstances.

A quote from a head of schools finance at Hackney London Borough Council, following an SRMA in October 2020. The quote reads: “The SRMA was professional, approachable, flexible, and extremely knowledgeable. We would happily have all schools reviewed using this methodology. They provided valuable independent and impartial advice to both the schools on maximising their resources.”

SRMAs can provide assurance that your current approach to managing school or trust resources is the most effective or give advice if you would like to make improvements. They can also help you with specific areas, for example, with procurement, digital needs and services, and managing your estate.

SRMAs are not inspectors, they work with you and your school or trust to help you get the best outcomes for your pupils. After the SRMA visit has taken place, you own the report and it is up you to decide which, if any, of the SRMA's recommendations you would like to embed in your school resource management practice.

A quote from Andrew Taylor, Headteacher at St Gabriel’s in Rugby, which reads: “The advisor was very much just an external perspective that wouldn’t take sides in being a conduit between the ESFA and the school…isn’t looking to count the number of pencils that you’re using and set particular limits on exactly what you can and can’t do. So in that way it doesn’t feel like we’re being checked up on in any way, more like a supportive conversation between professionals.”

What should I expect from an SRMA visit?

SRMA visits usually last between 1 and 3 days depending on the needs of your setting and can be planned for dates and times to suit you. These can be on consecutive days or spread over a longer period.

Through supportive, peer-to-peer conversations they give advice that is tailored to your school, local authority or academy trust. Following the visit, the SRMA will produce a report that is quality assured by the department before being handed over to you.

A quote from Matt Freeston, CEO at LEARNERs’ Trust, which reads: “For any school or trust considering an SRMA deployment I would encourage you go into it with open arms, it’s a really good opportunity to have someone outside your setting come in and share their experience. It’s a really great opportunity to see your trust through the eyes of someone else.”

What areas of my school or trust finances will the SRMA look at?

The SRMA will look at all areas of your resources based on your organisation’s needs, focusing on areas like financial governance, looking at:

  • forecasting and pupil numbers
  • Integrated Curriculum and Financial Planning (ICFP)
  • contracts and procurement
  • HR and recruitment
  • costings and budgeting for school improvement priorities
  • analysis of overall financial position
  • feedback from the school or trust

The SRMA programme also offers flexibility with the type of SRMA visit you can request. You can choose from either a comprehensive review, or more focused support which looks at one or two specific areas.

An infographic of SRMA statistics which states that 92% of respondents reported their experience of an SRMA visit as good or very good, and 89% of respondents found the recommendations useful.

What else do you offer?

Recently, we introduced Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Chief Operating Officer (COO) mentoring to the SRMA programme, which offers school and academy CFOs or COOs a unique and cost-free opportunity to further develop their skills and knowledge via a one-to-one mentoring programme. Places on this programme are limited, for more information contact the SRMA team.

How do I find out more or request an SRMA visit?

You can find more information about the programme at the SRMA page on GOV.UK. To request a visit email the team at ESFA.SRMA@education.gov.uk.

Want to hear from school or trust leaders about their experience of having an SRMA?

Watch the latest video case study below and visit the SRM case studies collection page on GOV.UK.

If you’ve found this article useful and want to learn more about how we’re supporting schools, click ‘sign up and manage updates’ to subscribe to our blog and receive notifications when we next post.

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4 comments

  1. Comment by Informatika posted on

    What flexibility does the SRMA program offer in terms of the type of visit requested?

    Reply
  2. Comment by Cherise Heavey posted on

    Thank you for your question.

    To best meet the needs of the sector and the individual educational settings we have tailored the SRMA programme to now offer:

    • A comprehensive SRMA review, which is suggested for those that have not previously had support, where the adviser will look at all the school, trust or local authorities’ financial data, key metrics, and overall approach to resource management. This will include a full Integrated Curriculum Financial Planning (ICFP) analysis and information for your school leaders on how to start implementing ICFP as part of your ongoing planning. You will receive a full report which will include a set of recommendations for where you may be able to strengthen processes and find savings to invest in priority areas.

    • More focused support, where the SRMA can work with a school, trust or local authorities’ on one or two key areas of school resource management. This could include:

    o an analysis of your overall financial position,
    o support to manage cashflow,
    o costings and budgeting for school improvement priorities,
    o contracts,
    o procurement and more.

    This type of focused SRMA visit is more suitable for those that have previously had a full comprehensive SRM review and now want to focus on a specific issue and/or if you have a very urgent issue you need immediate help with.

    Reply
  3. Comment by Glynn Statham posted on

    Could you tell me is the SRMA service available to FE learners. I work for JTL Training Ltd which is a registered charity and offers apprenticeships to over 8000 learners?
    Regards
    Glynn

    Reply
    • Replies to Glynn Statham>

      Comment by tessak posted on

      Thank you for your question Glynn.

      The School Resource Management Advisers (SRMA) programme is open to LA-maintained schools or academy trusts with a sixth form however it is unfortunately not open to FE-only institutions. If you have any questions on the wider SRM offer then please contact the team at school.resourcemanagement@education.gov.uk

      Reply

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