When Cheryl Brindle was promoted from deputy head to headteacher of Breck Primary School in Lancashire, she recognised the need for the school to have excellent business leadership. Having previously worked with Maria Taylor - Breck’s school business professional (SBP) - Cheryl saw the value she could add and moved quickly to raise the status of her role within the school. Maria moved from a term-time only contract, and was promoted to a full-time member of the SLT, with a pay increase that reflected her new position.
In her new role, Maria examined the school’s property services – at the time, run through the local authority. She began by undertaking a full review of the school’s finances and audit trails. As she did this, Maria identified significant scope for savings, but also found a historic lack of compliance. Maria was able to look at both the big picture, but also the detail, in a way that Cheryl, as head of the school, did not have the time to do.
Maria created a detailed report for governors and presented an alternative system whereby she would run the property services for the school, including utilities, building work, catering and grounds maintenance. The governors approved the approach and the impact has been significant.
The benefits of the initiative are three-fold:
Cost-saving: upon implementing the new system, the cost Breck School’s property services was reduced by more than 50% - from £27,000 down to £13,000 per year. This has freed up funds for work such as capital projects, including the building of an eco pod and classroom refurbishment which have had a positive impact in the learning environment.
Time-saving: Breck School now operates with more agility, being able to bring in the specific services they need at short notice, should they need to.
Community-building: establishing links with local businesses has helped Breck School strengthen ties with the community it serves, supporting the local economy and improving the standing of the school in the area.
Cheryl Brindle says of Maria:
Knowing I have someone who can look at the bigger picture for the school with me is tremendously helpful. I have a deputy head who ensures that the school and its teaching function smoothly and well – and Maria is equal to my deputy head. Together, we can focus on how the school can continue to grow and improve into the future.