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 when reviewing their curriculum or financial strategy.

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

Getting started with ICFP

There is no one way to do ICFP, but it should include analysing your:

  • teacher deployment
  • use of support staff
  • non-staffing costs
  • balance of income and costs

The more variables you measure, the more accurately you’ll be able to predict the resources you can afford in the future.

You’ll need to make some assumptions about how things might change over the next few years. Starting before you begin planning for the next academic year will give you time to recruit any new teachers you need.

ICFP is most effective when it is a normal part of your planning activity and involves your senior team, including your business manager and governors.

Use the 7-step guide to ICFP (PDF, 135KB, 7 pages) to help you get started.

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
  • choose an ICFP tool to help you know what to measure
  • make sure school leaders, academy trustees and governors understand common ICFP terms (PDF, 202KB, 9 pages)

See the basic principles of ICFP (PDF, 179KB, 10 pages) to help you prepare.

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’.

Using an equation (Association of School and College Leaders website) shows the relationship between what you measure and how changing one figure can affect other variables.

The fundamental equations (PDF, 172KB, 8 pages) and supporting workbook (MS Excel Spreadsheet, 32.7KB) explain the link between metrics without too much maths.

Analysing these metrics shows where you can create 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.

ICFP training

This training will help head teachers, governors and school business professionals.

Institute of School Business Leadership (ISBL)

ISBL has published an ICFP training presentation which covers:

  • an overview of ICFP
  • metrics and calculating metrics
  • what metrics can tell you about about your organisation

Entrust

Entrust has published School resource management webinars which cover:

  • benchmarking
  • using DfE tools in ICFP
  • in-depth look at ICFP metrics
  • ICFP during times of uncertainty
  • procurement law and compliance
  • joined up leadership in ICFP

ICFP tools

You can use an Excel workbook tool to input and analyse your figures. There are a variety of free and paid for tools available for different school types and situations.

The following tools are free to use.

Tools for primary schools

Primary schools can use the primary school workbook (MS Excel Spreadsheet, 88KB) and technical guide (PDF, 349KB, 13 pages).

The Pioneer Academy Trust (primary) have developed their own set of tools and guidance including:

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

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

Tools for secondary schools

Secondary schools can use the secondary school workbook (MS Excel Spreadsheet, 100KB) and technical guide (PDF, 492KB, 18 pages).

Watch Outwood Grange Academy Trust’s approach to ICFP and curriculum bonus:

Outwood Grange’s approach to ICFP

These documents are not accessible because they have missing alternative text, tables with complex structures, hard to read text contrast and use of colour to denote meaning. This means they don’t meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines success criteria 1.1.1 non-text content, 1.3.2 meaningful sequence, 1.4.3 contrast and 1.4.1 use of colour. Our teams are working with user researchers to understand the best way to meet users’ needs and aiming to fix it by May 2021.

Support

See Get financial advice for schools for a list of paid 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.

Published 5 September 2019
Last updated 26 April 2021 + show all updates
  1. Added 'training section'. Removed link to expired training resources.

  2. Added a link about free training funded by DfE for school leaders on ICFP and resource management.

  3. Restructured the page to make it easier to find tools, training and support and added links to additional guidance into the main content where relevant instead of in the resources section at the end. Added 'fundamental equations' and 'supporting workbook'.

  4. Added a link to free training on ICFP for school leaders.

  5. Added primary and secondary school ICFP templates and technical guidance and an ICFP video by The Pioneer Academy.

  6. 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.

  7. First published.