What is asset management in a school and why is it important?
The Education sector is under a lot of financial pressure, a 2020 report form the Institute for fiscal studies found state schools in England have suffered their worst decline in funding since the 1980s.
Schools managing budgets at a breaking point would benefit from being able to free up spending in some areas. Effectively managing school assets can be instrumental in working to tighter budgets.
What are your school assets?
Schools typically have hundreds, potentially thousands of educational assets and these will generally break down into three types:
Physical – the “nuts and bolts” type assets which are integral to the day to day running of any school. These range from simple consumables, such as stationery and textbooks, Edtech resources such as tablets, whiteboards, and other IT equipment right through to classroom furniture.
Soft assets – this is your software licences, an asset type that can be often overlooked. However, software licences aren’t cheap and a school asset management system can help you keep track of licenses, so you can reassign and renew without wasting resources.
Lastly there are the school building and facility-based assets such as heating, air conditioning and lighting.
How are your assets being used?
With hundreds of different assets spread across a large site or campus it can become difficult to track of who is using what and where assets are physically kept. It’s not unheard of for a school to invest in a new piece of equipment when the resource they need is lying forgotten in a classroom or cupboard somewhere. The effort expended trying to locate and replace missing pieces of kit is both disruptive and time-consuming.
Are your assets being reflected accurately in the school budget and accounting processes?
All schools have a regulatory responsibility to carry out auditing processes for key stakeholders, such as governors, and in the case of state-maintained schools, the government. Both the Academies Financial Handbook and SFVS advise schools to manage their assets as a key part of financial governance and accountability. This focus on the asset register has grown, due in part, to the academies programme and the explosion in tablets for learning. Academies, in particular, need to account for assets with capital values of between £500 and £1,000.
Are your school assets being looked after for maximum longevity?
Asset management can help school managers to understand the lifecycle of their educational assets, from purchase, or lease, right through to disposal. Whether an asset is recycled, sold, or scrapped at the end of its lifecycle, you can be confident it will have served its purpose as efficiently as possible
By logging support issues and repairs, a school can plan a preventative maintenance schedule. They can also review service history and downtime when considering further investments. Pro-active lifecycle management will involve:
- including the asset in the budget
- identifying the requirement for the asset and researching best matches
- integrating the item into an asset tracking system
- scanning the item for regular tracing and information
- checking for depreciation
- seeking and installing software updates
- initiating preventative maintenance
- ensuring compliance where the asset’s operation falls under Health and Safety regulations
In summary, asset management is knowing what school assets you have, where they are, how much they are worth, how are they being used and when they need to be maintained or replaced. This information plays an important part in shaping financial decisions, insurance plans and demonstrating sound governance of public funding.