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The Coopers’ Company & Coborn School, Greater London

Case Study

“Love as Brethren”

The Challenge

Coopers called Strictly Education in to undertake a root-and-branch review and update of their finance operations, with work beginning in January 2021 during the third COVID-19 lockdown.

The brief was to help Coopers procure a new payroll provider and finance system, with streamlined processes and automation to improve efficiencies.

The school needed help – it was creaking under a paper-bound system issuing countless cheques every day and had multiple overlapping bank accounts. What’s more, financial reporting required more granularity and better clarity, which undermined good decision making.


Finance is the driver of school improvement and now I can make knowledgeable decisions based on secure, up-to-date financial information. It is a dramatic improvement

Headteacher, Sue Hay


The Response

Coopers chose Xero – a cost-effective solution for £1,500 a year for a new finance system. We ran the tendering processes, creating specification and scoring documentation, but crucially remained agnostic when it came to choosing providers. We also ensured as many stakeholders as possible were on board, holding weekly meetings with the headteacher, key governors and senior staff and involving the Finance Team throughout the process. The result was widespread buy-in.

We held weekly meetings and maintained continual communication, facilitated by creating two groups to oversee the project: an operational board of staff and a strategic working party of high-level governors. We also wrote papers for the Governors’ Finance Committee to keep members fully informed and embedded a member of our finance specialist team in the school during the transition to manage the monthly management accounts, working together seamlessly with Coopers’ Finance team.


Strictly Education went well above and beyond what the company was hired to so, with a real desire to help the school keep improving in the area of finance. Steve spent a day in school talking to the new business director and SLT to provide priceless guidance.”

Headteacher, Sue Hay


The Result

  1. A streamlined finance operation. We eliminated the use of cheques, seven bank accounts have been reduced to three and most financial procedures are automated. The school has adopted the DfE’s academies standardised chart of accounts (CoA) – now embedded and operating effectively, the new accounting structure means a reduction of data entry time, better reporting and more reliability of benchmarking data comparisons. Costs have been slashed, and the finance team is far more efficient and productive. As a result of implementing the new processes, the team’s confidence has also improved.

  2. Financial visibility. Reporting from the previous system was clunky, unable to distinguish between the granular detail needed by the finance director and big-picture overviews for the headteacher. It was difficult to understand the school’s overall financial situation or do accurate forecasting. Now reporting is quick, digestible and clear: “Finance is the driver of school improvement and now I can make knowledgeable decisions based on secure, up-to-date financial information. It is a dramatic improvement.”

  3. A more focused headteacher. Ditching paper invoices and cheque signing has freed up an hour of the headteacher’s time every day, which during a year, equates to an estimated 195 hours of quality time to focus on pupils. “Freeing up the head like this is a really big school improvement that has an impact on every area of the school. It has been a huge benefit.”

  4. Cost savings. Savings of £1,000 a year in purely cash terms.

  5. Automation means minimal paper: great for sustainability as well as for reduced costs.

Headteacher Sue Hay has been able to:

  • Extract clear budget information and use curriculum led-financial planning to help design staffing for next year.

  • Accurately isolate catering income and expenditure to understand the financial impact of planned improvements to break and lunch provision, important for student wellbeing and performance.

  • Access clearer financial reporting, which is audience specific and has supported Governors to better understand school finance and so make strategic decisions around issues such as premises and learning environment improvements.

  • Use accurate financial forecasts and budget information to support the Strategic Improvement and Development Plan.

  • Create headroom in the budget to enable better investment in staff CPD.

The Verdict


Finance is the driver of school improvement and now I can make knowledgeable decisions based on secure, up-to-date financial information. It is a dramatic improvement. Strictly Education’s work has made a real positive impact on both the finance function and also the wider school.”

Headteacher, Sue Hay


Working with 900 academies and 180 MATs for many years, Strictly Education has the knowledge and expertise in all corners of a well-run multi-academy trust. Take your Finance to the next level with help from Strictly Education.

For further information or to speak to a member of the team please call 0330 123 2549 or email and we would be delighted to be of assistance.