PSA has an accredited Financial Management Module which it conducted with principals from the Edendale Circuit located in the Umgungundlovu district, KwaZulu-Natal. The training followed PSA’s tested approach which is to conduct a group training session and to follow this up with coaching sessions with the principals at their schools to assist with implementation. The initial training took place in September 2019 and has been followed by a number of In-School coaching sessions which ran through to Mid-February 2020.
All the principals in the Circuit attended the group training session in September 2019 and of these, 6 were selected by their Circuit Manager to undergo coaching. As the module is accredited, each principal had to prepare a Portfolio of Evidence for assessment purposes.
The following 3 areas were a key focus: (1) The development of a School Financial Policy; (2) The development of a budget for the following financial year; (3) Development of systems to track actual expenditure against budget , and any decisions made by the School Finance Committee when addressing identified anomalies.
All the participating schools had a School Financial policy. However, these tended to be quite generic. Work was done with the principals to ensure that these were customized so that could practically guide financial management practices in each school. It was encouraging to see the improvement in the policies of the participating schools.
Another area that was worked on with the principals to address, was the issue of having actual expenditure against budget data readily available on a summary sheet for them to review at the end of each month. In all the schools there was a file in which the invoices, etc from the expenses of the month were recorded and filed. However, this was not pulled together so that one could easily see actual expenditure against budget for the various budget line items. The principals were provided with a simple process to assist with collating this data. They were then coached on how to read the document to pick up potential/actual overspends and underspends for discussion and resolution at their Finance Committee meetings. They were then assisted with a process of recording the decisions made by the Finance Committee in addressing the identified anomalies.
The feedback received from the participating Principals has been very encouraging:
“This module has been very helpful to me. It has assisted with a tracking system for the budget which helps me in properly budgeting in the next accounting period. This also helps the principal alert hos SGB about the financial position of the school account in terms of meetings its obligations.”
“I have gained a lot of information and insight through this module. My SGB has a different view of how finances have to be managed in order to avoid fruitless expenditure.”
“The whole course and coaching sessions with our PSA Coach has really capacitated me.”
Given the shift in Financial Management practices observed in these participating principals, PSA strongly believes that this module, with the train-coach approach, has the potential to assist the department in improving Financial Management in its schools!