Home' Independence : Independence Vol 38 No 2 Oct 2013 Contents 78 INDEPENDENCE VOL 38 NO 2 OCTOBER 2013
Most parents of students enrolled
at independent schools would be
unanimous in how they value image.
Studies have found that, along with academic
achievement, parents choose independent
schools for their discipline and respect for
traditional values -- all attributes conveyed
by aspects of the school's presentation,
especially an outstanding school uniform.
It was this awareness of image that prompted
St Paul's Grammar School in Cranebrook,
western Sydney, NSW, to commission and
introduce a new school uniform in time for its
St Paul's compared proposals from three
firms, choosing Ranier Design Group for the
quality fabrics and contemporary designs put
The new custom-designed uniform has been
welcomed by the School community for both
GENERATING A SURPLUS - WHY AND HOW MUCH?
cultural and pragmatic reasons, according to
the School's Principal, Mr Paul Kidson. 'The
former uniform comprised an incoherent
system of items, essentially forcing parents
to buy a new unit of clothing every three
years,' he explained. 'We also wanted a more
distinctive, identifiable uniform.'
The image overhaul far exceeded the School's
The new uniform by Ranier has been lauded
throughout the community for its elite and
distinguishing look, according to Mr Kidson.
The striped blazer is particularly striking, and
the bold contrast of checks, stripes, navy and
bottle green in the junior, senior and sports
applications have shaped a strong identity.
The uniform allows for much flexibility, with
options for scarves and layering to suit a local
climate where mornings might be a crisp
12 degrees, and afternoons a steamy 27
An unexpected outcome has been the uniform's
impact on overall branding. 'The new uniforms
gave a great visual impression for our 30th
anniversary photo shoot. We have even begun
incorporating the stripes of our blazer into the
School's marketing materials,' said Mr Kidson.
Students, too, are proud of their sophisticated
new look and 90 per cent are now garbed
in the uniforms after a three-year transition
Mr Kidson has also praised Ranier 's 'exemplary'
approach to customer service throughout
the process of introducing the School's new
Ranier Design Group services include
complete design and manufacturing
of new uniform designs, part design
solutions, as well as setup and
management of uniform shops. For
further information, call 1300 306 395
or visit www.ranier.com.au.
CREATING A CONTEMPORARY SCHOOL IMAGE
Costs in independent schools have been
increasing by five to seven per cent per
annum. Income is likely to increase by
three to four per cent per annum in the
medium term. If schools don't manage
costs, operating surpluses could reduce
and schools may become financially
The annual ASBA/Somerset Non-Government
Schools' Financial Performance Survey (FPS)
indicates that the average independent school
in Australia produces an operating surplus
of $115,000 for every $1 million of total
Obtaining and maintaining a cash surplus is
mandatory to enable schools to adequately
repay debt and replace assets, otherwise they
risk financial distress.
The higher a school's debt and need for asset
replacement, the higher the required surplus.
Tools - FPS and SKI Report
This year over 540 schools participated in the
FPS, representing 70 per cent of students
enrolled in Australian independent schools.
The reports assess a participating school's
performance in over 60 ratios with a sample of
similar schools, allowing a comparison of their
key ratios such as income and expenditure per
student, operating surplus, staffing ratios, debt
level, with the sample average.
Participants can quantify areas of variation,
helping to assess financial efficiency and viability
for their individual school.
The Somerset Key Indicator (SKI) Report is an
extension of the survey. This on-line tool allows
a school to assess past, present and future
ratios. It helps shape decisions now, which have
an effect on financial sustainability -- often
preventing future financial distress.
In 2012, I met with the Principal, Business
Manager and governors of a school to discuss
their 2011 operating cash loss of $600,000.
Using the FPS we identified strengths and
weaknesses, which the school set about
addressing. In 2012 the school produced an
$800,000 operating surplus ($1.4 million
turnaround). This example is not uncommon.
Based on a group of 20 schools that I have
worked with over the past four years to
implement ratio analysis into management
practices, the average improvement in annual
surplus was 48 per cent (higher in the first year).
I urge schools to use these industry tools
to analyse efficiency and risks and plan
improvements where appropriate.
Somerset Education is a specialist in
the financial governance of
For further information visit
Telephone 1300 781 968
John Somerset is a Chartered Accountant. He has
extensive knowledge of the independent schools sector
and is currently President of Independent Schools
Queensland and a board member of the Independent
Schools Council of Australia.
Disclaimer We publish this article only for non-
government schools in Australia. All material should be
regarded as information only and individuals should rely
on their own enquiries when formulating decisions for
themselves or their clients. In no way do we warrant or
guarantee any changed circumstances for a school from
use or non-use of this material.
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