Managing Resources – a description

We are currently involved in preparing for a comprehensive self-evaluation of the quality of the education service we provide to children in East Lothian.

We’ve identified seven themes for which we will gather evidence. Each theme will then be subject to rigorous self-evaluation by teams composed of councillors, parents, head teachers, young people and colleagues from other departments.  The selected themes are:

  1. Learning and Teaching
  2. Additional Support for Children, Young People and Families
  3. Stakeholder involvement and Support
  4. Early Years and Child Care
  5. Our Cluster Approach
  6. Wider Achievement
  7. Resource Management

I met with our evidence gathering team for Resource Management on Friday and we agreed that a useful addition to the process would be a description of our practice in relation to each theme.  Without this contextual narrative the associated evidence might appear as disconnected materials.

Here’s my first attempt at describing how we go about managing our resources.

We have three key resources which allow us to deliver education in East Lothian: finance; personnel, school estate (buildings).


Our annual budget is £85 million, of which nearly £10 million goes on Children’s Services.  The department’s allocation makes up nearly 48% of the council’s total budget.

Over the last two years we have moved to a budget management system where transparency and accountability to our stakeholders are of prime importance. On a monthly basis we convene our Finance Advisory Scrutiny Group (FASG). This group is chaired by the Head of Education and has four head teacher representatives, unions reps from EIS, SSTA and Unison, a representative from the East Lothian Parents’ Councils Association, Finance Department accountant and other key business managers from the department.  The minutes of each meeting are circulated to all head teachers.

Before the establishment of the group there was always a possibility that the the budget allocation and management process in the department was open to question.  Since the Group has been set up this has been removed and more importantly real partnership has been established in identifying issues and solving problems. As the group’s name suggest it’s role combines providing advice to the the Education Directorate and also scrutinising all financial decisions made in the department.  The agenda is open to any member to suggest an item.  Small working groups are occasionally formed to tackle particular issues.

Our Devolved School Management Policy is currently being revised through such working groups. Our current policy sees 93% of our available budget being devolved to schools and the department is keen to see this figure rise. It has been interesting to note that head teachers do not universally seek to see more budgets (and the associated responsibilities)- which are held centrally by the department – to be devolved to schools.

The Education Department is advised by the Council’s Finance Department and significant work has been undertaken in the last three years to improve the quality of financial information available to the department and schools.  There is still an issue relating to the real time accuracy of budget monitoring statements as there tends to be a timelag between spend and that spend appearing on a monitoring statement.

Recent head teacher training and additional support provided by business staff in the School Support unit have addressed many issues which were causing difficulty. 

At a strategic level a Budget Steering Group was established this year to address the need for efficiency savings to made in the Department.  This group was composed of senior politicians from the administration, two parent reps; senior managers from the Department and representatives from every union with a stake in the Education Service. A key feature of this group’s remit was to seek savings which reduced the impact upon school budgets.

Budgets are a standing item at all meetings including, Primary and Nursery Headteachers’ Executive, Secondary Headteachers Management Meetings Local Negotiating Committee for Teachers, Joint Consultative Committee, Education and Children’s Services Management Team; Directorate; East Lothian Parents’ Council’s Association. regular meetings take place between senior managers in the department and the convener and vice-convener of the Council’s Education Committee.  Budget is a weekly item on the Department’s Directorate Meeting – Director, Head of Education, Head of Children’s Services.

Schools receive advice and support from the School Support Business Manager and Principal Officer, who work closely with staff from the Finance Department. School budget management is a now an item which features as part of the range of school performance which is validated by a school’s Quality Improvement Officer and reported n an annual basis.

School budgets are monitored on a monthly basis and support offered to those schools who appear to be having budget difficulties.  Some school specific budget issues have been discussed at the Finance Advisory Scrutiny Group and additional resources have been allocated with their agreement.

Secondary schools have a dedicated Business Manager who is a member of the school’s senior management team and who supports the headteacher in relation to school business matter. Primary schools do not have access to dedicated business managers but are supported by a member of staff in the Finance Department


There are over 1000 teachers and over 400 support staff employed in the department.

The department is supported by the Council’s Human Resources Department who advise on recruitment and selection, absence management, discipline and grievance, and the implementation of associated policies.

Each school has a direct link with a member of staff from the Human Resource Department who advises and supports the teacher.

The School Support Business Manager supports schools on a wide range of staffing matters and is often a first point of contact for personnel issues which arise unexpectedly. Liaison with Human Resources , the schools Quality Improvement Officer and members of the Directorate can also be called upon to provide support.

School staffing profiles in the primary sector are worked out through application of the formal provided in the Devolved School Management Policy. This will be done in partnership between the Business Manager and the relevant head teacher. Secondary schools are responsible for deciding upon their own staffing profile within the limits of their devolved budget.  The School Support Business Manager will assist secondary head teachers if there issues relating to surplus staff.

Disciplinary and Grievance issues will be supported by the Quality Improvement Officer and the Human Resources Department with reference to the Directorate if more support is required

To be completed………………………….