This may not be the most creative department of The Olive Tree School, but I have a feeling it will be a post that is clicked on more than most, as finance is close to everyone’s heart.
Most people would agree that profit is a necessary part of running a successful business. However, profit does not have to be the sole driver. Finance is obviously important to fund what we do here, but optimising profit is not the overriding objective. The ethos of the school is about educating young minds and it is pedagogy which leads our management decisions underpinned by sound finance.
Our business model prioritises 3 communities: a community of children, a community of parents, and a community of teachers. These 3 communities are part of what we consider a healthy organism. All three need to be nurtured. It’s my responsibility at the school to ensure there is a healthy business supporting the community as a whole.
We are a private company, and we need to file accounts which reflect our success as a business dedicated to providing children with the best start in life. In 2017 the school registered a modest profit and we are about to file our 2018 accounts showing a similar result. The current financial state of the company is positive; we have achieved our objectives in all of the last 3 years. We are on target to do so again for 2019. All profits have been re-invested in the school and no dividends have been paid to shareholders.
Any educational project requires investment. We started ours in 2009 with just 20 children aged between 5 and 10. Ten years later, it is a much bigger project than it was then, incorporating pre-school through to GCSE exams at age 16. We have moved premises twice and made a major investment 4 years ago to establish our Secondary School. Each phase of our development requires planning and investment. It’s ongoing. We have grown with the children, teachers and parents who are part of our community. Please note, we do not intend to grow too much. Part of the appeal of our school is that our relatively small class sizes and high teacher to pupil ratio allow each child to get the support and attention they need. This is not going to change.
We have invested recently in improving our accounting systems and administration. You may have noticed that we have digitalised the renewal process and we are moving as close to paperless administration as we can. So all invoices, permission slips and admissions forms are now digital. We know it is important to invest in IT solutions to improve school administration, resources and learning processes. We welcome suggestions for improvement from the school community, and we had several suggestions which are being adopted from the recent Open Forum Meeting, the outcomes of which have been forwarded to parents. We are continuing the improvement of the outdoor facilities, putting into practice a development plan for the Saplings outdoor spaces focusing on creating a variety of zones and spaces to develop the children’s skills in different ways.
We limited the increase in fees for the school year 2019-20 to the official inflation rate of 1,2%, as published by the Spanish Government. Increases in gross revenue are coming through increased pupil numbers rather than fees increases.
I’d like to say a personal thank you to the Events Committee. Their ability to organise is outstanding, and they’ve raised thousands of euros in the last few years to improve facilities, especially in the outdoor spaces and theatre. We have real, tangible benefits as a result, including the 2 pergolas we’ve built recently, and improved sound equipment which should be appreciated in this summer’s Musical Theatre productions. Anyone who wants to lend a hand is always welcome and can volunteer by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
One last thank you to Jeremy Hevery, who kindly organised for 6 iMac computers which were being replaced at his work, to be re-housed here, where they will provide a new dimension to design and some of the Secondary classrooms. The screens themselves are a wonderful teaching resource for which we’re grateful.
Very best wishes to all our families, children and teachers!