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2022 School-year reports closing to make way for 2023 reports!


 

Many thanks for your support of the Financial Survey for Schools (FSS).

2022 School-year reports close Monday, 15 July 2024
On Monday, 15 July 2024, we will close Options 2 to 9 on the FSS portal to make way for the 2023 school-year reports. So please make sure you have downloaded and saved last year’s survey reports (2022 school-year) before that date.

During this time, you can still enter your 2023 school-year data (Option 1).

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Target release of 2023 school-year reports on Thursday, 1 August 2024.
We are aiming to release 2023 school-year FSS reports on Thursday, 1 August 2023, which is why we need to close last year’s reporting so we can prepare and test the system.

Continual improvement 
In response to sector needs, this year’s reports include a revamped IT benchmarking report, a new Early Learning Centre (ELC) benchmarking report and our revolutionary SKI Scenario Builder™ that enables adjustments to key variables to instantly re-forecast budgeted financials, key ratios and risk assessment.

Accessing the Portal
To assist you with accessing the Portal, here are the step-by-step instructions: Navigating the Somerset Education Portal.

🎥 NEW | To ensure every school has access to important videos, we are pleased to announce our Financial Governance Training Videos as well as our ‘How to…’ Instructional Videos are now available on-demand for those who wish to undertake further training. To access the videos here is the link: Training Videos.

Q | Any questions?

For more information about the FSS or our budgeting and reporting tools, please do not hesitate to contact Cathy or Jessica at survey@somerseteducation.net or call 1300 781 968 (from outside Australia +61 7 3263 5300).

If I can help in any way with the financial governance of your school, please contact me at john@somerseteducation.net or mobile 0417 618 899.

We look forward to your ongoing support, or if new to the survey, we warmly welcome you joining in.

 

‘Heads Up’ on early results from FSS


 

Positive Feedback
The Financial Survey for Schools (FSS) has been operating for almost 30 years, growing to over 600 participants in 2023 from Australia and New Zealand. It represents 70%+ of enrolments in Australian Independent schools. With average satisfaction of 4.2 stars (out of 5) and 10 out of 10 recommending it to others, we are confident the FSS is valued by the sector.

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Figure 1: Results of satisfaction survey conducted April 2024.

Innovation
We discussed feedback at a survey committee meeting represented by Association of School Business Administrators (ASBA), Catholic Education Business Administrators (CEBA), Association of Independent Schools (AIS), and Netstrategy (IT and cybersecurity specialists). Outcomes include first time Early Learning Centre (ELC) benchmarks, improved IT survey benchmarks among other continual improvements.

Participate now
With your AGM and Commonwealth Financial Questionnaire (FQ) done, it’s the perfect time to complete the survey. Joining the Financial Survey for Schools (FSS) not only empowers you with data-driven decisions but also contributes to sector innovation and improvement. Every participant adds to the comprehensive dataset, benefiting all schools. So, why wait? Let’s create a benchmarking resource that sets the standard for non-government school financial sustainability and drives industry progress.

Participation currently starts from A$913 including GST (half price if less than 250 enrolments). This includes an early bird discount if you complete data entry by 30 September 2024. [Note: 2024 (2023 school-year) data entry remains open as we transition to 2023 school-year reports available from 1st August 2024. We will turn off 2022 school-year reports on 15 July 2024.]

2024 FSS (2023 school-year) sneak peek
We appreciate growing financial pressure from large wage increases, payroll tax for some schools, over budget capital expenditure, changes in government funding and financial pressure on families during this period of high inflation. Survey participants can use the FSS to identify efficiencies and subscribe for our SKI Scenario Builder™ tool to model changes to key budget inputs and instantly re-forecast financials, key ratios, and risk assessment — a must have tool for schools.

Early 2023 school-year results indicate a 4% increase in expenses, reduced operating surpluses mitigated by reduced debt. Our new ELC survey indicates a strong contribution to operating surplus especially if ELC wages are kept close to the average of 66% of income. The improved IT survey indicates an average recurrent IT expenditure of A$850 per student; 67% of schools have adopted a cybersecurity framework but only 35% of boards have a governor with IT experience.

Participate in the FSS to compare your performance with similar schools in these and many more crucial ratios to help inform decisions — your statutory and fiduciary responsibility.

🎥 NEW | To ensure every school has access to important videos, we are pleased to announce our Financial Governance Training Videos as well as our ‘How to…’ Instructional Videos are now available on-demand for those who wish to undertake further training. To access the videos here is the link: Training Videos.

 

Q | Any questions?

For more information about the FSS or our budgeting and reporting tools, please do not hesitate to contact Cathy or Jessica at survey@somerseteducation.net or call 1300 781 968 (from outside Australia +61 7 3263 5300).

If I can help in any way with the financial governance of your school, please contact me at john@somerseteducation.net or mobile 0417 618 899.

We look forward to your ongoing support, or if new to the survey, we warmly welcome you joining in.

Financial storytelling: How to read and analyse your audited accounts


 

Presented by John Somerset FCA, Director, Somerset Education
(Audience: Principals and Governors — but all welcome).

Accounting is a language of financial storytelling told in dollars 
As with all stories there can be variations in how it is told. Principals and Governors are ultimately responsible for the school’s finances yet in many cases are not trained in how to read the financial story.

Although I am a Chartered Accountant, I did not study accounting at school and therefore initially struggled with accounting concepts at university. So, I understand how confusing the financial story telling can be.

Join me for this one-hour webinar and I will explain in simple terms how to read your school’s financial story.

We will then build on these foundations using ratio analysis to help you assess the relative financial health of your school to inform decisions — your fiduciary and statutory obligation.

👩‍💻 The webinar content:

  • Your legal obligation regarding financial statements
  • ‘Accounting 101’ — the financial essentials
  • Top three questions to ask your financial team.

📚 By attending, you will:

  • Learn the basics of financial accounts
  • Understand where your school sits relative to other schools and why this matters
  • Know what data is important and what questions to ask.

🗣️ About me, John Somerset 
With 38 years in chartered accounting, I specialise in financial governance for non-government schools. My mission is simple — empowering schools with financial confidence to inform financial decisions and reduce financial stress.

Find out more about the expertise of Somerset Education in governance, training, and financial sustainability: Link to Team Profiles 

🚀 Webinar details:
Date: Tuesday 28 May 2024
Time: 7:00am to 8:00am (AEST) via Zoom

👉🏻 Register here:
Registration fee: A$99 (inc GST) per Registrant*
Register hereZoom
*Note: Please register even if you’re unable to attend the ‘live’ webinar as the recording is available to all Registrants up to thirty days after the webinar.

Q | Any questions?

For more information about the FSS or our budgeting and reporting tools, please do not hesitate to contact Cathy or Jessica at survey@somerseteducation.net or call 1300 781 968 (from outside Australia +61 7 3263 5300).

If I can help in any way with the financial governance of your school, please contact me at john@somerseteducation.net or mobile 0417 618 899.

We look forward to your ongoing support, or if new to the survey, we warmly welcome you joining in.

The Financial Survey for Schools (FSS) is now open!


FSS has over 29 years of school data
We are proud of our 29 year history of operating the Financial Survey for Schools (FSS) which is now ready to receive your 2023 school-year data. Thank you to approximately 600 schools that participate each year.Here’s a link to the survey portal: Somerset Portal

Financial confidence and sector innovation
Joining the Financial Survey for Schools (FSS) not only empowers you with data-driven decisions but also contributes to sector innovation and improvement. Every participant adds to the comprehensive dataset, benefiting all schools. So, why wait? Let’s create a benchmarking resource that sets the standard for non-government school financial sustainability and drives industry progress.

Join the FSS today and gain access to a range of powerful tools that will benefit your school:

  • Historical and Somerset Key Indicator (SKI) Reports to analyse past and future changes in your school’s performance.
  • Financial Performance Report to compare over 60 ratios with similar schools and identify strengths and weaknesses.
  • SKI Scenario Builder™ for real-time adjustments and financial forecasts and risk assessment — new for 2024
  • IT Benchmarking Report 
  • ELC Benchmarking Reportnew for 2024
  • Plus, enjoy the convenience of a 24/7, 365-day self-service portal, and rest easy knowing that 10 out of 10 participants recommend the FSS to others.
Your data entry deadlines and participation packages
Although the survey is always open, please aim to complete data entry by 31 July 2024 so that you and others can generate reports with adequate sample sizes from 1 August 2024 to inform strategy and the 2024 school budgeting process in a timely way.Single report participation starts from AU$913* — including GST (AU$457* for schools with less than 250 enrolments). A discounted package price for the Financial Performance Report (compare with peers), Historical Report (your trends 2018 to 2023) and SKI Report (your future trends to 2028) is $2,200* — including GST ($1,100* for schools with less than 250 enrolments). If you participated last year reduce the package price by $220 ($110 for schools with less than 250 enrolments).

[*Note: Early bird prices apply if survey completed before 30 September 2024.]

We ensure your school data is confidential
FSS participant names and data are held in confidence by Somerset Education which we know is important to you. Reports are generated in a format which respects that confidentiality.

Ongoing support and further information 
Also annual participation means I am only a phone call away to discuss your school’s performance with you, in an informed and efficient way.

🎬 To watch our video on the revolutionary financial forecasting tool — SKI Scenario Builder™ | here is link: SKI Scenario Builder™

Q | Any questions?
If you have any questions in relation to the survey please contact Cathryn, our survey administrator at survey@somerseteducation.net or telephone 1300 781 968 (from outside Australia +61 7 3263 5300). To assist you with accessing the Portal, here are the step-by-step instructions: Navigating the Somerset Education Portal

If I can help in any way with the financial governance of your school, please contact me at john@somerseteducation.net or mobile 0417 618 899.

REMINDER: 2022 school-year portal is closing to make way for 2023 data!


 

Many thanks for your support of the Financial Survey for Schools (FSS)Joining the Financial Survey for Schools (FSS) not only empowers you with data-driven decisions but also contributes to sector innovation and improvement. Every participant adds to the comprehensive dataset, benefiting all schools.

Key Dates 
In preparation to receive the 2023 school-year data, at 5pm Friday 19 April 2024 we will close Option 1 Enter Financial Data – 2022 School Year on the FSS portal. You will still have access to your 2022 school-year reports (Options 2 to 9 on the Somerset Education portal) until mid-July 2024. 

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This means that after 19 April 2024, you will no longer be able to enter or change 2022 school-year data.

If you do not have a copy of your 2022 school-year data, please go to Section 10 of the survey (via selection 1 on the portal) to download a pdf version — see screen shot below:

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For Australian schools, data input for the Financial Survey for Schools is based on the latest Commonwealth Financial Questionnaire which should be available soon. We plan that from Monday 22 April 2024 you will be able to enter the 2023 school-year data into the FSS. And we aim to have 2024 reports (2023 school-year) available from 1 August 2024.

Benefits of Annual FSS Participation
Identifying adverse trends in key financial ratios and responding in a timely manner by comparing with similar schools is crucial for financial sustainability. We therefore advise annual participation in the FSS. Most schools do participate every year and will now receive a discount in appreciation of their annual support of this valuable industry resource.

Therefore, if you have not yet completed the 2022 data there are several reasons for doing that now before we close off 2022 school-year data entry on Friday 19 April 2024.

Further Information
About our Survey | here is link: https://www.somerseteducation.net/survey/

🎬 To watch our video on the revolutionary financial forecasting tool — SKI Scenario Builder™ | here is link: https://www.somerseteducation.net/ski-scenario-builder-revolutionise-financial-forecasting/ 

 

Q | Any questions?

We thank you again for your continued support of the Survey. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us either via phone 1300 781 968 or email survey@somerseteducation.net.

 

Six-minute survey for feedback on our FSS


 

As a valued member of the non-government school sector, your contribution to the continual improvement of the Financial Survey for Schools (FSS) is invaluable.

Irrespective of whether your school participated in 2023, could I trouble you to please complete this six-minute Feedback Survey on the FSS .

Your feedback will directly influence improvements to the FSS and is a tangible way to contribute to the sector.

Thank you again for your support of our mission to help schools make confident financial decisions, maintain sector financial health, and positively contribute to the education of youth.

We look forward to our continual relationship with you and your school.

 

Q | Any questions?

For more information about the FSS or our budgeting and reporting tools, please do not hesitate to contact Cathy or Jessica at survey@somerseteducation.net or call 1300 781 968 (from outside Australia +61 7 3263 5300).

If I can help in any way with the financial governance of your school, please contact me at john@somerseteducation.net or mobile 0417 618 899.

We look forward to your ongoing support, or if new to the survey, we warmly welcome you joining in.

Webinar Alert: Evaluating 2024 enrolments and staff… time to rethink and refocus?


 

A critical aspect of maintaining financial stability for a school is the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Financial challenges often arise when there’s a discrepancy between enrolments and staff, possibly due to actual enrolments falling short of budget.
 
It is crucial to consider a strategic adjustment now if your 2024 enrolments are below the projected figures. Waiting until later in the year may lead to unfavorable financial consequences for your school. The Somerset Education Staff Estimator™ and SKI Scenario Builder™ provide a straightforward and effective means to assess staffing numbers and forecast potential financial outcomes for the year and to guide informed decision-making.👩‍💻 Join us for this one-hour webinar where we will discuss:
  • Case studies highlighting both sound and challenged financial health in schools
  • Insights into maintaining financial sustainability for schools
  • A recap of key performance indicators (KPIs).
🤔 You will learn how to:
  • Utilise the Staff Estimator™ to compare 2024 staff numbers with similar schools
  • Leverage our SKI Scenario Builder™ for forecasting likely financial outcomes to December 2024 and beyond
  • Feel empowered to become an expert advisor and contributor to your school’s financial position.
🚀 Webinar details:
Date: Wednesday 28 February 2024
Time: 7:00am to 8:00am (AEST) via Zoom
Recommended for: Principals, Governors, and Business Managers… but all welcome!
👉🏻 Register here:
Registration fee: A$99 (inc GST) per Registrant*
Register hereZoom 
*Note: Please register even if you’re unable to attend the ‘live’ webinar as the recording is available to all Registrants up to thirty days after the webinar.

 

Q | Any questions?

For more information about the FSS or our budgeting and reporting tools, please do not hesitate to contact Cathy or Jessica at survey@somerseteducation.net or call 1300 781 968 (from outside Australia +61 7 3263 5300).

If I can help in any way with the financial governance of your school, please contact me at john@somerseteducation.net or mobile 0417 618 899.

We look forward to your ongoing support, or if new to the survey, we warmly welcome you joining in.

Launch of our BGA Assistance Service


 

For over 27 years, Somerset Education has been dedicated to the financial sustainability of non-government schools. Our budgeting, reporting and benchmarking tools help identify areas to enhance performance and enable school management and boards to make informed financial decisions with confidence.

Commencing this year, Somerset Education is pleased to provide expert assistance to Queensland Independent schools to support capital grant applications with the Queensland Independent Schools Block Grant Authority (QIS BGA). In 2023 the QIS BGA provided financial assistance of $76.6 million across 41 schools representing an average grant of $1.8 million or 28.8% of project cost.

Capital Grant Application Assistance  
Somerset Education can assist with the preparation or review of applications in accordance with Australian and State government program guidelines. This help schools to:

  • Ensure the project aligns with minimum viable project principles
  • Develop project justification documentation
  • Develop multi-year budget models
  • Assess the financial capacity of the school
  • Determine the requested capital grant in support of the project.

Irrespective of what budget model you use, Somerset Education’s new SKI Scenario Builder™ forecasting tool can support capital expenditure, funding and borrowing decisions that form part of the BGA application and assessment process. Our multi-year budget model is also be available as required.

🎬 SKI Scenario Builder™ | Link to video

Somerset Team Experience   
John Somerset | John is a Fellow of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (FCA) with qualifications in Commerce plus a Master of Business by Research on the topic of school financial sustainability. John has over 37 years’ experience in chartered accounting with the past 27 years focused on the Independent Schools sector including benchmarking, financial analysis and governance.

David Reed | David is a Fellow Certified Practicing Accountant (FCPA) with qualifications in Business, Finance and Accounting plus a Master of Business Administration. David has over 11 years’ experience as a school Business Manager including a concurrent role on the finance advisory committee of ISQ BGA for five years.

Next Steps
If you would like Somerset Education to support or review your 2024 Round Application before Section 1 of the Application closes on Wednesday 1 March 2024, please contact:

John Somerset | via email john@somerseteducation.net or phone 0417 618 899
David Reed | via email david@somerseteducation.net or phone 0412 262 877

 

Q | Any questions?

For more information about the FSS or our budgeting and reporting tools, please do not hesitate to contact Cathy or Jessica at survey@somerseteducation.net or call 1300 781 968 (from outside Australia +61 7 3263 5300).

If I can help in any way with the financial governance of your school, please contact me at john@somerseteducation.net or mobile 0417 618 899.

We look forward to your ongoing support, or if new to the survey, we warmly welcome you joining in.

Season’s Greetings and thanks from Somerset Education 🎉

This year, your active participation in the Financial Survey for Schools (FSS) has been instrumental in not only contributing to valuable benchmarks but also in played a crucial role in shaping the educational finance landscape. To each school that participated, thank you for your commitment to financial excellence. Your dedication fuels our mission to empower educational institutions for sustained success.

For those yet to embark on the survey journey, it’s not too late! Your unique perspective is vital in creating a comprehensive understanding of the financial dynamics within the education sector. The survey for the 2022 school-year data remains open until April 2024, and we welcome your input.

We’re excited to cap off the year with a groundbreaking development—the launch of the Somerset Key Indicator (SKI) Scenario Builder™. This powerful tool will revolutionise financial planning for schools, and we can’t wait for you to experience its potential.


The Somerset Team celebrating a successful 2023 at our year-end celebrations at Tattersall’s Club, Brisbane.

As we bid farewell to this year, let’s celebrate the strides we’ve made together and anticipate another successful year ahead. Wishing you a joyous holiday season and a prosperous New Year!

With heartfelt thanks to all,
John Somerset and Somerset Education Team

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 Australia.

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PS—Office closure | from 5pm Monday 18 December 2023 to Monday 15 January 2024 
If you have any queries during this time, please call us on 1300 781 968 and we will do our best to respond in a timely manner.