8 Questions with a School Resource Management Advisor
What is your name, location and professional background?
My name is Danielle Duncan, I am based in Shropshire and have a Bookkeeping and
School Business Management background. I have covered a number of school-
based roles including Bursar, School Business Manager and more recently an
Accredited School Resource Management Advisor.
Where did you earn your School Resource Management Advisor (SRMA) accreditation?
I earned my SRMA accreditation through EPI during the spring of 2019.
How long have you worked in business management?
I have worked in a variety of business environments over the span of 15 years from
large national corporations to international school settings, alongside which I
studied a BA Business Management and Accounting Finance degree and MIAB. I
have worked in schools since 2012 with my first position as a Deputy Bursar in
Service Children’s education in Germany, other experience includes founding School
Business Manager of Oman’s first British Prep school, including project
management of the build, staff recruitment, procurement and health & safety and
founding partnership school business manager in Swindon.
What is the most rewarding part of being an SRMA & what do you find most challenging?
Ensuring that the context and characteristics of each school/trust is applied to the
Integrated Curriculum Financial Planning (ICFP) metrics is key to a successfully
understanding the needs of the pupils but can be both the most rewarding and
challenging part of being an SRMA. Often, I am introduced to staff that are
unfamiliar in the process of using ICFP as a tool, to assist senior leaders in making
strategic decisions based on their characteristics (pupil needs). If by the end of an
SRMA visit we have had robust high challenge, low threat conversations around the
metrics that identify efficiencies to re-invest funds back into the school/trust and
the senior leaders start to make the suggestions of what they might change – that’s
when it is truly rewarding.
Why did you decide to transition from school business employment to SRMA consulting?
In 2019 I decided that I wanted the flexibility to support more than one school, and
use my experience and sharing of best practices that I have seen in well over 40
educational settings to ensure the biggest amount of impact for all pupils.
What has been the most rewarding experience working with EPI?
We go beyond the DfE programme! I have been able to personally work with
schools, trusts and Local Authorities outside of the SRMA program to implement
change, some in areas that were highlighted in the ICFP review and others based on
my experience and knowledge. To be able to work with senior leaders strategically
and see what implementing the changes/efficiencies can have on the budget, new
resources, buildings, developing staff is by far the best experience.
What skills have you gained whilst being an SMRA?
The biggest skill that I have gained is the ability to see use financial and curricular
data to set strategic short and long terms plans whilst encompassing the pupil
needs and school improvement requirements of the setting.
What advice would you offer a current School Business professional?
Communication, communication, communication. Be part of the senior leadership
meetings, have the high challenge, low threat conversations. Understand the needs
of the pupils and the curriculum that is required to deliver impact to meet the set
objectives, if you don’t understand ask, be prepared to train. The educational
environment as we have learnt this year is fast moving, being able to communicate
during all times is critical to the success of all settings.
And secondly if you have not yet received Integrated Curriculum Financial Planning
training, book it. It’s use as a tool to evaluate, measure, monitor and set strategic
short and long term plans is invaluable.