Coaches help schools to put finance in its place

A trial mentoring program is ensuring principals can deliver on their school plans.

Image: On the money: James Busby High School principal Olimpia Bartolillo and Director Educational Leadership Nick Magriplis discuss budgets.

A trial of financial coaching in NSW schools is putting finance where it belongs – into the delivery of student outcomes.

Involving 26 schools in four regions, the trial was aimed at offering a clear budget pathway to schools who were seeking to make the best use of accumulated funds.

As coach Gail Driscoll said: “Finance is the horse, not the cart. Schools are usually quite clear about what they want to deliver. Sometimes it just needs to be coupled up to the budget.”

Like all the coaches in the trial, Ms Driscoll is an ex-principal with deep financial expertise.

Not only were she and her colleagues demystifying the tools and rules of budgeting, they were helping schools to focus on their core business and to invest in their school plans.

One of the schools involved in the trial was James Busby High School in Sydney’s south-west.

Principal Olimpia Bartolillo said coaching was helping to convert budget commitments into investments.

“As a school, we are buying services for students, and we take that seriously. We want to be sure that we’re going to deliver benefits but we don’t want caution to lead to delay,” Ms Bartolillo said.

“Our coach and our director Nick Magriplis have backed our plan all the way, and we feel the coaching guidance has cleared the path for us to bring in the people and services that we need.”

NSW Department of Education Chief Finance Officer Gerard Giesekam said budget allocations were “today’s money for today’s students”.

“School budgets exist so that schools can deliver their plans,” he said.

“I applaud the work of these coaches, who are providing schools with the confidence to spend their allocated funds by addressing any doubts or obstacles they may have.”

The success of the trial has led to an extension of the coaching program to include more than 400 identified schools during terms 3 and 4.

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