With budgets tighter than ever, schools must continually make savings and improve efficiency wherever possible.
We outline some simple and effective cost saving strategies which can be implemented in both primary and secondary schools.
1) Utilise ICT effectively
Computing technology is one of the most expensive areas in any school budget. It’s important that you take time to assess the school’s current and future needs in order to implement effective long term plans.
For example, paying more for new, more powerful servers or computers in the short term can actually save you money on additional hardware and maintenance contracts in the future.
With the right communication and information sharing tools, consider going paperless to reduce internal waste. You could even ask parents if they wish to receive newsletters and notices via email, further reducing printing and posting costs.
2) Save Energy
According to the Carbon Trust, UK schools could save over £44 million if energy saving strategies were properly implemented.
On average, lighting amounts to as much as 20% of the total energy costs in schools, even though it only uses 8% of total energy consumption. Consider investing in sensors to ensure lights are automatically turned off in areas of the school where they’re not required to be on all day long.
Turn off computers whenever they’re not in use, and make improving insulation a priority.
3) Replace Furniture
Whilst it’s easy to slip into a routine of repairing chairs and tables as they wear out, it can often be more efficient to replace them all together, modernising the classroom and improving the learning environment.
New furniture can also help reduce the cost of expanding classrooms, as there are many innovative and cost effective space saving solutions specifically designed to deal with growing pupil numbers.
4) Renegotiate contracts
Meet with all contractors face-to-face and challenge their costs. Negotiate either a price or extra benefits more favourable to the school, in return for renewing the contract, or just move to a lower priced competitor.
You should also consider asking for money back if projects are not delivered on time or to agreed specifications.
One secondary school in Surrey recently saved £1.8 million on catering costs this way, simply by focusing on existing contracts.
5) Analyse running costs
Running costs are dependent on school size and condition, but there is a huge difference between the amount spent per pupil on back office costs, ranging from £144 to £1,392 in primary schools and £202 to £1,432 in secondary schools, according to a government review on efficiency.
Given this spread, there’s clearly room for schools to make savings.
Take the risk of moving away from your usual suppliers. It’s easy to fall into a routine with the same purchases. It does take time to improve buying decisions and find the best value deals, but it will be worth it.
6) Hire a good SBM
Even simple things like changing the default setting on printers to print and photocopy double sided and reusing envelopes for internal purposes contribute to an effective cost saving strategy, freeing up funding which can be spent elsewhere.
That’s why you need a good school business manager (SBM), someone who can identify these strategies and effectively implement them.
Spend the time hiring the right SBM, because a report commissioned by the National College For Leadership of Schools and Children’s Services found that in a year 6 year period, SBMs generated £306 million in savings and additional income.
Government recommendations on school efficiency found that one of the key factors in helping schools save money was the presence of a competent SBM, so be sure to make this a priority if you don’t already have one!