Integrated Curriculum and Financial Planning feels a little like a “nice to do” thing at the moment.  What if you could do a pinch of strategic planning to get the ball rolling?

Have you got a large sheet of paper to hand?  My favourite is a flipchart but a piece of A3 would be fine. In fact, if you have small, neat writing, a piece of A4 will suffice.  Set it so that it is landscape and imagine it has three columns.  In the middle of the middle one, draw this heart.  Imagine the middle square of a noughts and crosses game.

And do what you can to protect the next hour and a half for deep thinking.


Start with the children – 10 minutes

Get comfortable.  Feet firmly on the floor.  Pen down, this is thinking time.  Eyes closed if you feel safe to do so.  Take some deep breaths.

Bring some children to mind.  Not just the brilliant, charming ones.  Not just the ones with real challenges and deep needs.  Not just the average ones.  Imagine them three years on.  What is it like for them in your school?  If they have left, what was their strongest memory and greatest success?  If they are just starting, how would you like them to grow?

Now hover above your school and look down.  Still three years ahead.  Does it look different?  How have the numbers changed?  How have the needs changed?  Does it feel the same or have you taken a significant step forward?  That ambitious idea you have rummaging around in your head, did you get the team on board and prove it to be a success?

How does it feel to lead this school?  Open your eyes and make some notes inside the heart shape.


Now use the Pomodoro technique to really focus

Well nearly Cirillo’s original technique, just a slight modification.  Set the timer for 20 minutes.  Start in the top right-hand corner of the paper and get ready to write notes, thoughts, ideas and questions.


Curriculum.  Class or timetable structure. Teachers.  Quality.

Hold those children in your mind.  In three years, will the curriculum have changed?  What about your class or timetable structure?  Is there anything different about your management structure?  Are there key techniques that have been mastered or professional development that has been achieved? Has anyone left?  Has someone new arrived?  Has the quality of teaching and learning changed?

Then take a five-minute break to stretch and breathe.  Not to check your emails or make a quick call.

Set the timer again.  Another 20 minutes.  This time, bottom right.


Education support staff.  Resources, trips and experiences.  Extra support.

Again, in three years, what does it look like? Think about anyone who directly supports teaching and learning.  Think about all the books and technology and equipment, the trips, the experts, the support service professionals and even the time and money on exams and tests to record the progress made.  What is different? How might things have changed?

And how is it better for those children who need more support?  Are there children missing out?

Time for another five-minute break to stretch and breathe.  Then set the timer again.  Another 20 minutes.  This time, left hand side of the page.


Funding.  Self-generated income.  Overheads. Operational costs.

Three years is a long time.  What do you know and what is uncertain and needs a set of assumptions or more research?  Are your extra chargeable activities covering their costs or is there a deliberate subsidy?  What do the buildings look like in three years? Are there services provided by a trusted supplier or are you doing it yourself?  What are the things that take time and effort out of all proportion to the impact on children and their learning?  What could you do to contain them?

Now have another five-minute wriggle.


Now we get to the point

There is a reason this strategic planning structure is the shape it is.  Pupils at the heart.   Where else would they be?  And at the bottom of the heart shape is a sharp point.  This is where financial and educational planning meet.  But today, it is where we get sharp and focussed on the next steps.

Last five minutes.  Write down five actions under the heart – they might be bits of information to find, structures to model, ideas to discuss with the team.  The last one should be the date you will come back to this.

Let’s not make a meal of it

Many of you will have seen our Seven Steps guidance on the DfE ICFP page but this is more of a hop, skip, jump version than seven careful steps.  It is ICFP for the current times.  Every day there is something that demands a response.  But look what we did with no real notice.  We turned the education system upside-down.  Now I know this is not real education, but my point is that we are more resourceful and more capable of huge change than we thought.

So, make some space and think about what the world might look like in three years.  And then work with the whole team to explore how to make that happen.


You have just made a start.  Always the hardest bit.

If you would like to chat through this process or pick my brains about modelling tools to work through some ideas, get in touch and I would be very pleased to help.