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Finance & resources

Budget setting in maintained schools

Typical activities that boards undertake in the approach to annual budget approval

tools-resources using a pen for inputting numbers into calculator

Governing boards in local authority (LA) maintained schools are required to approve and submit to their LA, a balanced budget that runs from the 1 April to the 31 March each year. The budget should align with strategic priorities to help the school meet its aims.

Governing boards and school leaders should agree a timetable of budget setting activities that allows sufficient time to scrutinise the proposed budget and provide appropriate challenge.

Preparing to approve the budget should begin with an evaluation of the school’s financial position. This should include an assessment of key financial opportunities and risks, such as an expected rise or fall in pupil numbers.

Our budget setting guide provides an overview of typical activities that boards undertake in the approach to annual budget approval, together with a suggested timetable.

The guide covers:

  • how schools are funded
  • creating a budget setting timetable
  • reviewing the school’s current financial position
  • preparing the draft budget
  • scrutinising and approving the budget
  • tools to support budget planning

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