July 2012

The know zone

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    How do you convert time into money? Sam Ellis explains the many complexities of this question and looks at how schools can get value for money when deploying their staff. More
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How do you convert time into money? Sam Ellis explains the many complexities of this question and looks at how schools can get value for money when deploying their staff.

Rate of return

I recently purchased a latte from a well-known coffee chain at a hotel. When the person behind the counter charged me over £4, the Mancunian in me erupted with “How much? Dick Turpin wore a mask!” The price also transpired to be twice the cost of the identical product in the outlet of the same name at St Pancras Station. What you get for the money you pay out varies considerably and sometimes I find myself asking, “Is this worth it?” This is a good question to apply to the topic of staff deployment, which we looked at in the May edition. Last time we ended up here (see table 1).

The trick is to realise that the teacher period (tp) column is not only a description of teacher time but also a representation of expenditure.

How does one convert time into money? Well there is no one absolute answer but I would argue that provided a school is consistent in its approach it can easily get a meaningful result. The way I tend to do this is to take the average cost of employing a teacher and divide it by the Average Load ( cell B6 in table 1). The average cost of employing a teacher is the part where different schools will do the calculation in different ways. I usually use the total of expenditure on teaching staff salary, supply staff costs, agency staff costs and any ‘bought in’ professional services representing teaching time in the curriculum.

I then divide the total by the full-time equivalent (FTE) teaching staff total ( cell B3 in table 1). Members interested in developing this spreadsheet for their own purposes could link a budget expenditure sheet to the sheet above to calculate an appropriate value.

Once a value has been calculated, the cost of a period follows as described above by dividing the answer by the Average Load. The sheet can then be adapted to show the cost of each line on the deployment analysis (see table 2):

There is a discrepancy between the value in F3 and the total in F20 ( table 2) where I have rounded figures to whole numbers to make the screenshot easier to read.

There are several ways of extending this idea. For example the whole school periods can be shared out amongst the year group on a per pupil basis and then the expenditure per year group can be compared to the per pupil funding for each year group. It is also possible to construct a version of this sheet which shows the cost of PPA, management and other non-contact time. As a final suggestion, it is also possible to include in this type of sheet class support time from educational support staff.

The bottom line on this type of analysis goes beyond the outline of “Is this worth it?” We need to take “What’s such and such an area of the school worth?” and extend it to “We are spending this much public money on this area so what is the impact on pupil learning and progress as a result?” and, inevitably in these financially interesting days, “Is that value for money?”

  • Sam Ellis is ASCL's funding specialist

Table 1

Table 2Finance-graph2.jpg