Guidance

Integrated curriculum and financial planning (ICFP)

How schools can use ICFP to create the best curriculum for pupils with available funding.

Overview

Integrated curriculum and financial planning (ICFP) is a management process that helps schools plan the best curriculum for their pupils with the funding they have available. It can be used at any phase or type of school.

ICFP involves measuring your current curriculum, staffing structure and finances, and using the data to create a 3 to 5 year plan.

ICFP is not new

The idea of linking curriculum and financial planning is not new. Most schools probably use some ICFP processes already or use another name for it.

Other names for ICFP include:

  • curriculum led financial planning
  • education centred strategic financial planning
  • curriculum analysis linked to finances
  • strategic financial and curriculum planning
  • staff deployment analysis linked to finances

The benefits of ICFP

Linking curriculum and financial planning can help you:

  • achieve educational success and financial sustainability
  • deliver the best curriculum your school can afford that meets the needs of your pupils
  • maximise the financial efficiency of your school
  • maximise the curriculum efficiency of your school
  • manage unexpected costs, challenges or opportunities
  • assess risks
  • decide what money you need to keep in reserve

Getting started with ICFP

There is no one way to do ICFP, but it should involve:

  • a teacher deployment analysis to work out the amount of teacher time it takes to deliver a curriculum
  • assessing the cost and effectiveness of education support staff and resources
  • measuring non-staffing costs
  • balancing measured costs and resources with the money the school has available

The more variables you measure, the more accurately you’ll be able to predict the resources you can afford in the future. You will also need to make some assumptions about how things might change over the next few years.

A good time to begin this process is before you start planning for the next academic year, so you can recruit the new teachers you need.

In order to be effective, ICFP should be a normal part of your planning activity and involve your senior team, including your business manager and governors.

We have funded free training on ICFP for school leaders. Find out more on the ISBL website or email training@isbl.org.uk.

Common ICFP steps

Most approaches to ICFP follow common steps.

Prepare

To begin, you should:

  • get the right people involved - curriculum and financial planners need to work together
  • create an educational vision statement for your school
  • conduct a thorough assessment of your current financial situation
  • conduct a thorough assessment of your teaching resources
  • create a common understanding of ICFP terms by school leaders, academy trustees and governors

Analyse

Then start to:

  • look at the curriculum you wish to provide
  • link curriculum costs to budget planning
  • measure and benchmark key metrics
  • establish common assumptions about what will change over 3 to 5 years, including pupil numbers and needs, funding, costs, staffing or educational policy

Plan

Finally, you should:

  • reconcile staffing and curriculum plans with what can be delivered in a balanced budget
  • write a strategic plan for 3 to 5 years
  • set regular reviews and update the plan as things change

What to measure

ICFP balances the relationships between:

  • the amount of teaching time required to run the timetable
  • the amount of support staff time required (outside of mainstream secondary settings)
  • the proportion of time teachers spend teaching
  • class sizes
  • the cost of employing teachers
  • available revenue
  • non-staffing costs of running the school
  • the budget available for teaching costs

Some schools and trusts use additional metrics, such as ‘curriculum bonus’.

These relationships can be linked in an equation so that if you change one metric, you can see the impact on other variables.

Analysing these metrics shows the areas you can create efficiency savings to invest in areas that will make the greatest difference to pupils.

You can do a simple analysis using the School resource management self-assessment tool (academies) or the Schools financial value standard (maintained).

Reconciliation

Your analysis will give you the number of teachers you can afford, based on estimated cost pressures, income and pupil roll numbers, and the number of teachers you need to deliver your ideal curriculum.

If these numbers are different, you will need to reconcile them.

Do this by changing other metrics to close the gap between these numbers. This could mean adjusting class size, pupil to teacher ratio or the number of teachers.

What you change will depend on the priorities set out in your educational vision statement. Reconciliation should be done openly with all relevant staff until you reach an agreement.

You will need to consider what can be delivered by school staff and the impact any changes may have on teacher workload and the work-life balance of staff.

See the Workload reduction toolkit.

Get support with ICFP

See Get financial advice for schools for a list of providers of ICFP advice. Services include recommending or supplying an ICFP tool, analysing your current processes and supporting you to make an ICFP action plan.

ICFP resources

Introductory materials for head teachers, school business professionals and governors

A 7-step guide to Integrated Curriculum and Financial Planning (ICFP) (PDF, 135KB, 7 pages) - guide to setting up the ICFP process and involving senior leadership teams and governors in decision making

Basic principles of integrated curriculum and financial planning (PDF, 179KB, 10 pages) - guidance for heads, business managers and governors looking to implement ICFP

Integrated Curriculum and Financial Planning - glossary of terms (PDF, 202KB, 9 pages) - glossary of common ICFP terms

Confederation of School Trusts ICFP guidance

The ICFP equation of life method to calculate the number of teachers a school may be able to afford by bringing together the main ICFP metrics

The Primary school ICFP workbook (MS Excel Spreadsheet, 88KB) and Primary school technical guide (PDF, 349KB, 13 pages) will help you calculate your metrics.

The Secondary school ICFP workbook (MS Excel Spreadsheet, 100KB) and Secondary school technical guide (PDF, 492KB, 18 pages) will help you calculate your metrics.

The Pioneer Academy Trust’s staff deployment analysis manual (PDF, 1.34MB, 15 pages) - for use with their:

Watch The Pioneer Academy Trust’s approach to ICFP in primary schools:

The Pioneer Academy Trust’s approach to ICFP in primary schools

Watch Sir Michael Wilkins explain the Outwood Grange approach to ICFP:

Outwood Grange’s approach to ICFP

The schools financial benchmarking service

School resource management self-assessment tool (academies)

Schools financial value standard (maintained schools)

School workforce planning guidance

Workload reduction toolkit

Education Endowment Foundation deployment of teaching assistants research

Supply teacher deal

Published 5 September 2019
Last updated 5 November 2019 + show all updates
  1. Added a link to free training on ICFP for school leaders.
  2. Added primary and secondary school ICFP templates and technical guidance and an ICFP video by The Pioneer Academy.
  3. Added The Pioneer Academy Trust’s staff deployment analysis manual and tools and a video on Outwood Grange's approach to ICFP to the resources section.
  4. First published.