Strategies from industry

"My varied background of industry and local politics helps my governorship, " says Ken Warman, a governor of Framingham Earl High School, Norfolk, for 20 years, where he has chaired the finance committee for six.

An engineering manager responsible for all capital expenditure at Colman's, Norwich, he is also a local district councillor for South Norfolk. Framingham Earl's finance committee comprises almost half the governing body and senior management team.

"We meet twice termly and adopt the disciplines of industry," he says. "We have written terms of reference and a detailed monthly operating statement so we know how we are spending. This is linked to a costed planning cycle. Although our discretionary element is small, heads of department submit bids according to needs. These have to be justified to the committee and the full governing body. After Office for Standards in Education inspectors identified science, CDT, and health and safety, we made them spending priorities."

Having accrued a balance to finance a drama studio, the governing body was frustrated when the local education authority decided not to fund in full the teacher's pay award in 1995,. "Therefore we had to use reserves earmarked for other projects. It is difficult to accrue surpluses in the short term. We are investigating the possibility of loans. Where there's a will, governors will find it."

A new challenge is to establish an asset register. "No business would be without one. You need to keep tabs on your assets. We need to know what school uses and to have a strategy for replacement."

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