Logo - SENDAT (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Academies Trust)

SENDAT (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Academies Trust)

SENDAT is a growing Multi-Academy Trust (MAT), currently comprising three schools which
provide special and alternative provision across primary and secondary education, and
supporting a range of needs from ages five to 19. The Trust’s expertise lies in moderate
learning difficulties, autistic spectrum disorder, communication and interaction, social
emotional and mental health, and behavioural needs.

Priory School, Stone Lodge Academy and Chalk Hill offer school-based learning
environments in Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich and Sudbury. Mount Road specialist Autism Unit
is based within Priory School with spaces for six young people from Year 5 to Year 7. The
Trust’s outreach service works with young people and families in mainstream schools and in
partnership with Suffolk County Council. For students aged 16-19 who find it difficult to
access Further Education they also run a post-16 provision, Angel Hill College, in the centre
of Bury St Edmunds. Those students based at Angel Hill College are on the roll of Priory
School.

The Trust provides an education to 400 students overall and operates with a budget of £8
million. Overseeing this budget is Chief Finance and Operating Officer Sue Prickett, who
joined SENDAT in September 2019. “When I arrived I inherited a budget management
system that had been procured by the local authority, and the capabilities within this system
were limited in the context of the changes we needed to implement, as we had to request for
those changes to be made via a third-party,” she explained. “With two new schools joining
the MAT that November, I had to go back to the finance services provider to raise a budget
profile for these schools, rather than being able to do this myself. It was all very long-winded,
and from my perspective time-consuming and frustrating.”
Having reached out to a contact at nearby St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocesan Multi-
Academy Trust to discuss her predicament, Sue was recommended to IMP Planner. “I spoke
to Will Jordan (IMP Software Co-Founder), had a demo, and thought this is exactly what we
need,” she revealed. “There were multiple projects in the pipeline, and I needed to have faith
in what I was projecting and spend less time manually forecasting budgets, so we appointed
IMP in May 2020 and started using it in September. Whilst it has been an exceptional year,
we have already benefitted from the system. Will’s vision, the reflective practice and the
feedback we get, IMP Voice (IMP’s customer ideation platform) which gives us the ability to
see what is coming up in terms of product development and through which we have used to
ask for more work to be done on staffing contracts, it has been a breath of fresh air.”

Having also moved towards centralised roles in finance, and expanded her team with
another role in December 2020, Sue said IMP Planner had impacted on many day-to-day
operations. “IMP has provided time-savings, consistency in financial reporting, confidence in
the numbers in our system, and the interface between the actuals: we put in assumptions for
next year, and can see what happens if we change the pay scales but freeze scenarios; both
best and worst-cases, and ‘what ifs?’,” she said. “It sounds simple, but just having to input
rates for pupil premium and teachers’ pay and pensions only once means that I will not make
a mistake on school three, as might have been the case if I was manually inputting on
spreadsheets. We can also now tie in cost centres to budget lines. For example, I see an
invoice come in for authorisation, and we can put that straight under pupil premium. Real
reporting used to be a challenge, but with IMP I can do that within the different levels
required. I can bring a condensed summary, which is generally wanted by the Board, but
also expand that using the same document, when we need for our Finance and Audit
Committee requiring that detail.”

Sue explained the difference in financial management in special and alternative provision,
and how IMP Planner supports this setting: “In SEND provision you receive £10,000 per
place and high needs funding is allocated to each child on top of that, which varies
depending on their needs through banded funding: for some students, high needs funding
can be as high as £60,000 per young person per year, which needs to fund interventions,
therapies and any enhanced staffing requirements. General Annual Grant is the restricted
place funding, so the variability comes through high needs funding, which is going to go up
and down depending on the need of students. It is therefore important that I can go to the
Board with an informed argument on staffing requirements and what our budgets should be.
The graphs in IMP’s reporting suite can also help visually demonstrate to the Board where
we have made different assumptions in a reporting year and why we have moved away from
the original forecast.”

She added: “I would absolutely recommend IMP Software. The support is great, and it is
going to be brilliant when we use all the functionality. We are just about to go into second
year of our contract, and I cannot see why we would not be as happy in years two and three.
We have a big year coming up with two cognition and learning units being delivered with
mainstream schools from September 2021, and we will need IMP Planner to pull out the
information on those two units and report independently. We also have a new school
opening in January 2022, which we will need to switch to its own independent school code.

For all these projects I have to be able to integrate all salaries and throw out one MAT
management report: and that, again, is where IMP Planner comes in.”

How many schools are in your MAT?

Less than 9 schools

Our MAT has less than 9 schools

Book a demo
More than 9 schools

Our MAT has 9+ schools

Book a demo