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Administration and finance


Process for converting to a Single Budget Federation.

Planning and preparation

  • Decide by October half-term if your plan is to implement a single budget in the following April.  This allows for time to consider the budget and cost centre structures and to transfer personnel data to the new FMS data base.
  • If a federation is considering moving to a single budget, take HR advice regarding revised roles and responsibilities of administrative staff and get these agreed by Governors/Heads before going ahead.
  • Allow time to plan with those involved how a single budget might be organised (could visit existing federations to see how it works in practice).
  • All schools considering a single budget need to have terminal server in place as soon as possible with multi-site access for the Business Manager/Senior Administrator for when the single budget is implemented.  (Capital funds can be used to purchase this IT equipment and installation cost but the annual running costs will need to be paid for from your school budget not capital).
  • If the Federation involves one or more LPS schools then seek advice from the Schools Finance Team about the implications and how this might affect the way things are operated.
  • Once you have federated it is a good idea to align cost centres across the federation to help governors understand and compare financial data more easily. This is particularly useful if there are a number of schools in the federation with different cost centre structures. Once you move to a single budget, governors will only have one set of data to look at.


Each school continues to receive their own school budget which DCC calculate. This is then amalgamated to form one single federation budget which the hub school receives. There will be supporting documents to show how the budget is made up from the individual schools.

  • The Budget Planning Tool can be used for single budgets and federations.
  • Supply claims processing is run through the hub school only.
  • Each federation needs to negotiate service level agreements with individual service providers.
  • The carry forward for the hub school occurs automatically. For each of the other schools, the carry forward will need to be entered manually as a central receipt against an identified income cost centre for each school within the hub school budget. The following year all these balances are treated as the hub school balance and will roll forward as a retained balance automatically, unless the school opts to have a new Federation FMS and for staff data in which case opening balance journals will need to be completed.

Capping of School Balances

  • If school balances are high these will be identified by DCC and managed by exception.
  • Currently there is no definition of high but it would not be unreasonable to use the old capping level as a benchmark.
  • If a school knows they are going to have a high balance at year end, please can you enter the reason for this on your end of year accruals workbook.

Petty Cash

  • Schools can either close their petty cash or debit card accounts and a federation petty cash account can be opened or the hub school can keep their petty cash account open and the other School/Schools close their accounts. Contact Melissa Dempster who can advise and organise this for you.
  • Individual federations will need to decide how to run their petty cash.  Petty Cash floats can be held in individual schools but these must be reconciled to the main hub school account.


  • Manually input personnel data from all schools to the hub school. The contract start dates are the same date as the start of the single budget.  Contract details can be printed from in the non-hub schools to help with this. Do not end contract date in the personnel database in the non-hub schools.
  • It is important that the schools (as well as the hub school) continue to have up to date databases for absences and training. All absences, apart from training, will be collected as part of the School Workforce Census; however a record of training is a requirement of OFSTED so schools are advised to keep this information up to date as well.
  • If schools are of different denomination, i.e. VA, VC or Community you will need to choose the correct governance when printing contracts from the Contract Printing Utility.

Payroll Budget Codes

  • This Excel template will need to be downloaded, completed and sent to Schools Finance Team to inform them which staff will be changing to a different school number. This need to be completed if it is the intention of your federation to implement a single budget as of 1st April.
  • From that date onwards, all costs attributed to the federation will be charged/credited to the hub school. All item codes attributed to the other schools within the federation will be de-activated and those activity codes will no longer be used
  • All employees whose pay is currently attributed to non-hub school activity codes need to have their payroll records adjusted to the hub school, in time for the April payrun. In order to achieve this you will need to inform our Schools Finance Team of these changes as soon as possible as they need to implement the changes by the end of March at the latest.


  • CRB checks need to be kept centrally on terminal server and identical paper copies on each site.  These need to be available even if there is no movement of staff across sites.
  • There has been different guidance issued on this so it would probably be better to err on the side of caution and have the information available on all sites.


  • Capital funding needs to be separately recorded for each site at a cost centre level.  Transactions for any one site must be costed to their own cost centre to meet capital asset management requirements.
  • For VA schools, capital funding is held by the Diocese so it is not necessary to set a cost centre.

School Workforce Census

  • The DfE requires individual school returns for the School Workforce Census.
  • The Devon County Councils Education Information Team’s suggestion to those federated schools that amalgamate their personnel data is that they initially send in one return and then use the Workforce Contract/Service Agreement Details and Workforce Member Absence Details to notify them of which staff work in which of the federated schools.
  • For a shared member of staff they will need to know what FTE should be recorded against each school. Similarly with absences they would need to know which staff are shared and which school the absence was against. You will also need to provide individual school information on Teacher Vacancies at the time of the census, the number of Occasional Teachers employed on the census day and a breakdown by school of the Third Party Headcount information on the census day. This information can be returned to Carla Calzavacca as it does not include staff names. See notes below for returning information on contracts and absences.
  • The Devon County Councils Education Information Team believes that the easiest method of getting that data to them is for the school to:
    • Open up those reports in Excel
    • Add some columns at the end (one for each school in the Federation)
    • Indicate in those columns which school the member of staff works in or if shared the FTE
    • Ditto absences
  • Excel spreadsheets can be sent via the Pupil Forecast Community in RMSecurenet if they are saved to the SIMS\STAR\ASCout folder.

What do we need to do once we decide to have a single budget?

  • Open a new financial year in FMS in the hub schools and begin to build a new budget structure including cost centres and ledger codes.
  • Discuss what information governors and head teachers would like reporting together/separately/or by site.
  • In FMS at year end (for the first year only), open the financial year in the non-hub schools but do not start it. This will enable you to do final closedown in FMS if you wish to but is not necessary.
  • Both income and expenditure for school meals, PTA activities, school fund and trips should be looked at and considered whether it is appropriate to keep these separately or bring them together. If kept separately you need to ensure that bankings are clearly identified as to which school they belong.  This is to avoid the person doing the reconciliation spending lots of time trying to allocate income correctly. This is either by references or a clear audit trail spreadsheet that enables easy identification when the income fails reconciliation.  (Discuss this with your Finance Consultant).  There is no right or wrong way but you do need to understand how you are going to run these and be consistent in your approach.
  • Ensure the hub school supplier list covers all suppliers used by other schools across the federation. These will need to be set up manually.
  • When ordering goods you will need to amend the delivery address to ensure the goods get delivered where you want them, otherwise deliveries will go to the hub school.
  • A discussion needs to take place regarding how multi-site paperwork is organised, e.g. delivery notes.
    • Will individual sites place their own orders?
    • Will individual sites do the invoicing?
    • How will that information be passed to the hub admin for reconciliation?
    • Does the photocopier scan so invoices don’t have to be posted or shuffled between sites?
  • Longer term you may want to consider setting up an intranet or use of something like Dropbox so shared documents are easily accessible, as current federations find they can waste time with paperwork not being in the correct place.
  • The monthly FINEST reports need to be re-directed to the hub school.  The Federation Business Manager/Hub Administrator must check secure net finance data reports (under DCC Apps in terminal server) to ensure correct data is being received.  If there is a problem, contact the School Finance Team.

Who do we need to inform?

  • Send an email to School Finance Team and copy in Karlien Bond informing them that you wish to move to single budget and which school number you will be using.  They will advise you of other matters that may require your attention.
  • Payroll & Schools Finance Team – template for changes in coding for all staff contracts involved in the single federation available via the above finance team for actioning update to payroll system.
  • Finance Consultants – contact your Finance Consultant for support and guidance.
  • HR Officers – contact your HR officer for guidance.
  • ScoMIS – contact ScoMIS Helpdesk regarding the installation of terminal server.
  • Create email to School Finance Team – budget plan.
  • Melissa Dempster – petty cash accounts and credit/debit cards.
  • Devon County Council’s Education Information Team – School Census and Workforce Census.
  • HR ONE – School Portfolio of Services.
  • Devon Audit Partnership – may alter charges and auditing requirements.
  • Revenue Section – banking of income and any On-line Cash Collection services they support 01392 382780 or
  • Payments Team – re any changes to the SCRAPS system (Systems for Certification and Remote Authorisation of Payment from Sims) 01392 382417.
  • Any internal Section that has a charging arrangement for a service with any of the schools involved
  • Capital Team – for any Vehicle and Equipment Loans Pool (VELP) arrangements that may need re-coding.  The Capital Team still need information about single sites.
  • Transport Coordination Service (Fleet Management) – if a minibus is involved.