ESFA: financial planning handbook and financial plan

Guidance for sixth-form and further education colleges on preparing and submitting their financial plan and supporting commentary.



College financial planning handbook

The college financial planning handbook sets out ESFA’s financial planning requirements for sixth-form and further education colleges.

College corporations must prepare a financial plan, including:

  • estimated outturn for the year
  • approved budget for the new year
  • forecast for the subsequent year

Colleges must also prepare a supporting commentary, including:

  • strategic and financial objectives
  • detail of the assumptions underlying the financial plan
  • self-assessment of financial health
  • explanations for year-on-year movements and variances
  • detail of sensitivity analysis performed

Colleges must submit these documents to ESFA by 31 July 2018.

College financial plan: template

Colleges must prepare their financial plan using the published template.

The financial plan must give a realistic view of financial performance and reflect the cost of implementing the college corporation’s strategy.

College financial plan: guidance

Colleges must refer to this guidance document when preparing their financial plan.

Published 13 May 2013
Last updated 9 May 2018 + show all updates
  1. We have made minor amendments in the college financial plan template, details of which can be found on the contents tab of the template
  2. Updated College financial planning handbook 2018 and template have been added for 2018.
  3. New versions of the Financial planning handbook, College financial planning template and Financial planning template guidance uploaded on 14 June 2017.
  4. Revised version of College Financial Planning template uploaded on 17 June 2016.
  5. New version of College Financial Plan Template uploaded on 13 June 2016.
  6. New files titled College financial plan template and Financial planning template guidance uploaded on 13 May 2016.
  7. Financial planning handbook for 2016 to 2018 published.
  8. Published June 2015: Financial planning template
  9. Published June 2015: Financial Planning Handbook 2015 to 2017
  10. First published.