I enjoy observing and learning from other professionals. A recent trip to the ophthalmologist reinforced the notion of an outcome being greater than the sum of the parts. My ophthalmologist is very effectively practicing in his 70’s with the help of analytical tools and his team. I walked into the surgery earlier this year, someone did the administration, one expert conducted a series of tests and then another expert carried out different tests. The reports were handed to my doctor who, relying on the information and his extensive knowledge, proclaimed all was good and gave some background of his prognosis. I expressed my amazement with the process to which he replied: “I synthesize the information” which perfectly explained what had just occurred.
This is also true in your world as an education professional, and in my world as an analyst of school financial sustainability. The ASBA/Somerset
Non-Government Schools’ Financial Performance Survey (FPS) is like the machines used by the medical experts to turn data into information which facilitates diagnosis and treatment.
Each year about 700 schools log into the FPS at Somerset Education and enter financial, student and staff data and select a sample of similar schools. The report calculates key ratios for that school, compares the results with similar schools, identifies and quantifies strengths and weaknesses, graphs results and inserts explanatory text based on relative performance. This is like the medical analyses where my results are compared with the expected/normal range to inform the doctor about my relative health and suggest best treatments if required.
A key attribute of a financially sustainable school is the ability of the school to respond to changing circumstances. Annual participation in the survey helps to identify changing circumstance to which you can then make informed adaptation. I therefore urge schools to participate every year.
If your school is experiencing changes including in enrolments, capital expenditure and debt levels, you might consider asking us to synthesize the reports and present to the school board. Our most popular method is via video conference and we consistently achieve a satisfaction rating of 9+ out of 10.
So, I recommend:
- Your school participates each year in the FPS health check;
- Respond to adverse trends in a timely manner to help prevent financial stress; and
- Consider asking us to synthesize and present your results.
With the help of the FPS, other analytical tools and my team, I hope to be like my ophthalmologist, still contributing to my profession for many years to come.
John Somerset is a Chartered Accountant. He has extensive knowledge of the independent school sector and is past President of Independent Schools Queensland and a past board member of the Independent Schools Council of Australia.
ASBA2019 Conference The Somerset Education team look forward to seeing you at the ASBA2019 Conference in Hobart coming up 01-04 October 2019—Booth 62. Please bring along your Financial Performance Reports and have a chat to John and Helen. John Somerset will be presenting at the New Business Managers Workshop at 1.00pm Tuesday 01 October 2019.