Approving the budget: questions to ask

Whether you're a member of the finance committee or not, know what questions to ask about different areas of the budget at whichever stage it comes to you for approval.

Last reviewed on 28 June 2023
Ref: 41688
Contents
  1. Why you're supposed to ask questions
  2. How did we get to this budget?
  3. Take risks into consideration
  4. Benchmarking
  5. Improvement planning
  6. Income generation
  7. Staffing questions
  8. Pupil questions
  9. Variations in the budget
  10. Deficit and surplus
  11. Trustees in MATs: extra considerations

Our thanks to our associate education experts who helped us to write this article.

Why you're supposed to ask questions

You shouldn't treat budget approval as a 'rubber-stamping' exercise.  

By asking the right questions, you can make sure that your finance committee:

  • Has thoroughly scrutinised the budget
  • Hasn't missed anything 

Remember that your role is strategic, so you shouldn’t:

  • Ask detailed questions about the operational side of spending
  • Check the detail of the budget and whether things are accurate (your finance committee has already done this) 

You're not expected to ask all of the questions. Pick ones where:

  • There are any gaps in the information, or something hasn't been explained
  • Something doesn't make sense or needs clarifying 
  • There are any changes to last year's budget

Take