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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.

__________________________________
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.

Introducing a game-changer for schools!


 

BREAKING NEWS | Somerset Education is thrilled to introduce the Somerset Key Indicator (SKI) Scenario Builder™, a game-changer for schools navigating financial viability.

In today’s competitive educational landscape, financial health is crucial. Our innovative SKI Scenario Builder™empowers school leaders to make well-informed decisions, ensuring long-term economic sustainability and preventing financial stress.

This tool, an extension of our Annual Financial Survey for Schools (FSS), offers features like scenario forecasting, benchmarking, and a user-friendly risk shading system. With around 600 schools in Australia and New Zealand participating in the FSS, the SKI Scenario Builder™ provides dynamic insights for decision-makers.

Now, schools can explore different scenarios by adjusting key drivers, instantly recalculating outcomes and assessing potential impacts on financial health. It’s about giving schools the tools they need to thrive!

At Somerset Education, we are dedicated to enhancing the financial well-being of non-government schools. The SKI Scenario Builder™ leverages over 37 years of financial expertise, now at the fingertips of principals and business managers.

OUR MISSION IS CLEAR | To empower schools to Govern with Confidence.

Somerset Education is committed to supporting schools in achieving financial sustainability and making informed decisions that contribute to the education of our youth.

WATCH | The video for how Somerset SKI Scenario Builder™ will revolutionise your school’s financial health.
🎬 Here is link: SKI Scenario Builder™ Video 

Not registered for the Survey?
For more information and to register, here is link: Survey 

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.

Revolutionise your school’s financial future with a click of a button!


 

Somerset Education is thrilled to share with you a groundbreaking development that’s been three years in the making—theSomerset Key Indicator (SKI) Scenario Builder™. This isn’t just a tool; it’s a game-changer for enhancing school financial viability and sustainability.

Explore the future today | If you’re already part of the Financial Survey for Schools (FSS) and subscribe to the SKI Report, great news! Log in now to unlock exclusive access to this cutting-edge predictive tool.

Your experience matters | Your feedback will be instrumental in fine-tuning this tool to cater precisely to your and school’s needs. Let me know your thoughts on its usefulness—it’s your chance to shape the future of school financial management!

Stay tuned for more | Do read the attached media release for all the details. In the next few days, I’ll follow up with a brief video delving into the SKI Scenario Builder™. It’s an exciting journey and a quick email response outlining your thoughts would be fantastic. (Read media release here: Somerset Education Media Release)

Thank you for being a vital part of this innovation. Together, let’s revolutionise how schools navigate their financial landscapes with confidence towards a more sustainable future!

Not registered for the Survey?
For more information and to register, here is link: Survey 

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.

REMINDER | Early bird offer is closing — Complete your FSS now!

 

REMINDER| Early bird offer is closing — Complete your FSS now! 
By John Somerset, 19 September 2023

Why you need to participate in the Financial Survey for Schools (FSS) and why it makes a difference?
With over 25 years of expertise in school financial analysis, my current PhD research involves engaging with both consistently financially healthy schools and those facing challenges. My research continually reinforces the power of the the Financial Survey for Schools (FSS) to convert large amounts of data into actionable insights to underwrite school financial sustainability.

FSS EARLY BIRD OFFER CLOSING | Participate now
Even though the survey is always open and can receive participant data at any time until April 2024, schools are encouraged to complete their 2022 school-year data entry by 30 September 2023 in readiness for the 2024 strategy and budget season. Participation starts from $720 plus GST* or if less than 200 enrolments the price is halved to $360 plus GST* per school.
*Early bird price -– when survey completed and invoice requested prior to 30 September 2023.

AICD WEBINAR | Financial Governance for school boards: Unlocking the paths to sustainability
On Thursday 14 September 2023, in conjunction with Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), I facilitated an hour-long webinar covering the essentials of school financial governance along with AICD panellist, Ms Jane Crombie, Non-Executive Director, AICD Council Member, and Board and Governance Specialist. This supports my PhD research which highlights the importance of financial governance training for Boards.

🎥 To access the AICD webinar recording click here 👉🏻 https://www.aicd.com.au/courses-and-programs/all-webinars/EV165811.html

ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATORS (ASBA) | National Conference, Melbourne
Somerset Education is proud to again support the ASBA National Conference by sponsoring the conference notepads and pens. For the first time in 25 years, I will not be at the conference, but we know ASBA members will warmly welcome our lead consultant, Jessica Schieren at the Laneway party on Monday 25th September. Also, many thanks to Westpac for their kind invitation to Jessica to join the Westpac evening function on Tuesday 26th September. Best wishes for an insightful and enjoyable conference and safe travels for all. Contact via phone 1300 781 968 or email info@somerseteducation.ne

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.

Complete FSS and leverage data via AICD webinar

Why the Financial Survey for Schools (FSS) makes a difference?
My research continually reinforces the power of the the Financial Survey for Schools (FSS) to convert large amounts of data into actionable insights to underwrite the financial sustainability of your school.

It upsets me when I see schools get into financial difficulty when it could have been prevented by correctly using the FSS, associated tools, and a bit of advice. I have seen some wonderful financial turnaround, but sadly some not so. There is a catch — governors and management must be prepared to use the FSS and make changes. If you are a small school (say less than 300 students), you could be a higher risk and need the FSS even more.

So don’t be the “should have, could have, but didn’t”. Participate in the FSS now. 

FSS EARLY BIRD OFFER CLOSING | Participate now
Even though the survey is always open and can receive participant data at any time until April 2024, schools are encouraged to complete their 2022 school-year data entry by 30 September 2023 in readiness for the 2024 strategy and budget season. Participation starts from $720 plus GST* or if less than 200 enrolments the price is halved to $360 plus GST* per school.
*Early bird price -– when survey completed and invoice requested prior to 30 September 2023.

AICD WEBINAR | Financial Governance for school boards: Unlocking the paths to sustainability 
Date: Thursday 14 September 2023
Time: 11:30am to 12:30pm (AEST)**
Cost: AICD members: AU$69 | Non-members: AU$99
Registrations: https://www.aicd.com.au/courses-and-programs/all-webinars/EV165812.html
**Recording: Will be available within 48 hours after live session (expiry date: Monday 15 September, 2023).

Another key attribute of a financially sustainable school is governor and senior management financial literacy training.

In conjunction with Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), John Somerset is running a short, sharp, and effective webinar covering the essentials of school financial governance. Get the most out of your attendance by having the FSS reports in front of you while we work through the material together.

The ‘live’ webinar will cover:  
> Legislation relevant to school financial viability
> ACNC governance standards for transparency and accountability
> Attributes of a financially sustainable school
> Accounting principles for non-accountant directors
> Transforming data into actionable insights using ratio analysis.

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.netor mobile 0417 618 899.

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

Improved 2023 (2022 school-year) Financial Survey for Schools Reports… Now available!

Reports available and samples will grow as more school complete
2023 (2022 school year) reports are now available. Keep in mind samples will grow as more schools participate over the months ahead. But early bird participation prices end on 30 September, 2023.

The Financial Survey for Schools (FSS) helps school governors, Principals, and Business Managers unlock financial viability and sustainability by analysing trends in key ratios for your school and by comparing performance with others. This helps schools to govern with confidence and reduce financial worries.

R&D improvements to school financial sustainability reports
Somerset Education has unparalleled experience in school business with over 35 years in chartered accounting and the past 27 years dedicated to non-government school financial health. For the past 10 years, John Somerset has worked on formal Masters and PhD research to identify factors for school financial success and failure, to predict and prevent financial stress in schools.

🎬 This 5-minute video is worth watching to see how reports have benefited from research this year.

Somerset Education: R&D improvements to School Financial Sustainability Reports – 2023_08_01 from John Somerset on Vimeo.

Access to FSS Reports 
Please log into the Somerset Portaland then:

  1. Accept updated Terms and Conditions (if required)
  2. Select a sample of similar schools
  3. Generate your reports.

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

20-minute ‘crash course’ video to help you read and analyse FSS reports 
Watch this video to help analyse your school’s FSS reports. The great thing about this video is that you can ‘pause’ or ‘replay’ as you view your reports. Hope you find this useful.  🎬 Here’s the video link.

Somerset Education: 20 Minute crash course on school financial analysis – 2022_07_29 from John Somerset on Vimeo.

FSS | Participate now
Schools can participate at any time until April next year, but early bird prices* end on 30 September, 2023. (*Early bird price -– Survey completed and invoice requested prior to 30 September, 2023.)

To encourage schools to use both trend and comparative analysis, Somerset Education offers the Financial Performance Report, Historical Report (school’s results 2017 to 2022) and SKI Report (school’s results 2021 to 2027) as a package. ThePackage price is AU$1,580 (plus GST) per school for all three reports or if less than 200 enrolments AU$790 (plus GST). This is a discount of 27% off the sum of individual products – you almost receive three reports for the price of two.

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.netor mobile 0417 618 899.

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

REMINDER: 2021 School-year reports rollover and security renovation…

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

On Saturday, 15 July 2023, we will temporarily close the Somerset Education School Portal to add another layer of security and also prepare for 2022 School-year reporting.

Our target timeline | Summary
Saturday 15 July 2023 | Temporary close FSS Portal — make sure you have downloaded 2021 School-year reports.
Tuesday 18 July 2023 | Re-open Option 1 on the portal Enter Financial Data  2022 School-year — remains open to April 2024.
Tuesday 18 July 2023 | Added security Upgraded password and two-factor authentication required.
Tuesday 01 August 2023 | Reports available 2022 School-year reports available — options 2 – 9 on the Portal.

Adding additional layer of security 
To continually improve our data security, Somerset Education are implementing new password protocols plus a two-factor authentication process. 
🎬 This short video explains the changes featuring step-by-step instructions: Multi-factor authentication.

Four easy-to-follow steps – as featured in the video
Step 1 | Login to Somerset Education School Portal using your current password:

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Step 2 | An authentication code is sent to the email address registered with Somerset Education:

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Step 3 | You will be asked to upgrade your password to include improved security requirements:

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Step 4 | You will arrive at the school portal as usual:

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

| 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).

Kindest regards

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.

Disclaimer: We publish this article only for non-government schools in Australia. All material should be regarded as information only and individuals should rely on their own enquiries when formulating decisions for themselves or their clients. In no way do we warrant or guarantee any changed circumstances for a school from use or non-use of this material. As a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, the firm participates in a national liability capping scheme. Accordingly, our liability is limited by a scheme approved under professional standards.

® Somerset Education is a registered trade mark

Use Financial Survey for Schools to govern with confidence…

FSS enables confident decisions
For over 25 years I have operated the Financial Survey for Schools (FSS) which allows non-government schools to enter financial information, select samples of similar schools and generate trend and comparative benchmarking reports analysing ratios for income, expenditure, staffing, operating surplus, debt, cash reserves and more. Reports are presented in a format that maintains confidentiality and helps identify changing circumstances in a school plus areas for improved performance.These facts inform and justify complex decisions and can help reduce financial worries.

FSS for all schools – small or large 
The FSS is a powerful tool irrespective of school size and has been instrumental in changing many schools’ financial health. The FSS relies on collegial support – annual and early participation helps the sector, your school, and also helps us to help you if you call for assistance.

91% of FSS participants rank the survey with 4 to 5 stars and 10 out of 10 recommend it to others. 

We are in increasingly risky times with high inflation and rising interest rates which will most likely influence the movement of students between schools. Annual FSS participation guides financial decisions and helps prevent and sometimes cure financial stress. Two recent examples follow.

Example 1 | Small School with drop in enrolments – cured stress
Last year we worked closely with a school of less than 200 enrolments that had incurred a significant drop in enrolments which, without decisive action, would have closed the school. The board needed clear guidelines to make difficult decisions to hopefully save the school. Using the FSS to compare staff, income and expenditure ratios with similar schools indicated operating costs were $1 million higher than average, and in which areas.

The board then used these facts to make difficult decisions which reduced the loss and saved the school from closure. The school’s processes now include setting and monitoring staff, income, expenditure, cash, and debt ratios – it is budgeting to produce a healthy operating surplus in 2023. Application of a ratio analysis discipline would almost certainly have prevented this financial stress. 

Example 2 Large School with significant planned capital expenditure – prevented stress.
More recently we met with a large school regarding a planned significant capital expenditure program. Our analysis of operating surplus relative to debt indicated likely financial stress if they proceeded. The school’s past and future trend in key Income, expenditure, staff, debt and debt servicing ratios, including comparing these with similar schools and recommended limits, identified the school was under charging and over servicing. Noble as that may be, this could have placed the school in financial stress.

The FSS provided a clear action plan which included deferring some capital expenditure while working on strengthening operating performance in areas targeted by using FSS metrics. This will enable the ultimate plan but within a more responsible risk profile. 

For more information and to view a video on FSS click here.

FSS | Participate now
Even though the survey is always open and can receive participant data at any time, schools are encouraged to complete their 2022 school-year data entry by 31 July 2023 in readiness for the release of 2022 school-year reports on 1 August 2023. Participation starts from $720 plus GST* or if less than 200 enrolments the price is halved to $360 plus GST* per school.

To encourage schools to use both trend and comparative analysis, Somerset Education also offer the Financial Performance Report, Historical Report (school’s results 2017 to 2022) and SKI Report (school’s results 2021 to 2027) as a package. The Package price is $1,580 plus GST per school for all three reports* or if less than 200 enrolments $790 plus GST*. This is a discount of 27% off the sum of individual products – you almost receive three reports for the price of two.
*Early bird price -– Survey completed and invoice requested prior to 30 September 2023.

Flip side of higher interest rates
Higher interest rates are seemingly entrenched and may be the new norm for a while. The flip side of higher interest rates is the opportunity to earn a worthwhile return on surplus cash funds. I encourage schools to discuss this with their bank or a few trusted banks perhaps using an independent provider like Likwidity. As this is beyond my area of expertise, I am not making any recommendations and schools should engage with their independent experts for specific advice.

| 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).

Kindest regards

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.

Disclaimer: We publish this article only for non-government schools in Australia. All material should be regarded as information only and individuals should rely on their own enquiries when formulating decisions for themselves or their clients. In no way do we warrant or guarantee any changed circumstances for a school from use or non-use of this material. As a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, the firm participates in a national liability capping scheme. Accordingly, our liability is limited by a scheme approved under professional standards.

® Somerset Education is a registered trade mark