Our Lady of Lourdes uses IMP Planner to implement GAG pooling across their trust
Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Multi-Academy Trust is a group of 36 successful schools across Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire. It was formed with a priority to “ensure the very best Catholic education for all young people in our community, whatever their circumstances” across the Diocese of Nottingham. The trust brought together the 21 Catholic primary and secondary schools within Nottinghamshire and Nottingham City with all 15 Lincolnshire Catholic schools joining the trust in 2022.
Lady of Lourdes introduced GAG pooling in the 2022-23 academic year, and discussion with us began soon after about how we could support their new MAT-first approach to finance.
Chief Operating Officer Daniel Moore suggested that, as a trust, they have always sought opportunities to innovate and improve their offering. He said “I have monitored trusts that have taken a pooled approach to finance. We quickly realised that our systems and software were struggling to cope and would limit us in what we wanted to do going forward.”
Daniel explained that the trust “wanted to take a more strategic approach to funding: the ability to target funding where we needed it most.” He continued, “every child deserves the same opportunities…and their experiences should not be limited to where their school is based. At times there were schools which needed investment where we were also looking to make cuts, and that wasn’t right.”
The trust implemented IMP Planner in February 2023 to support the rationale for their centralised approach to finance.
In outlining the benefits that IMP Planner would bring to the trust from the 2023-24 budget setting cycle, Daniel commented: “IMP is built for a MAT from the ground up rather than school first, and will bring significant time savings for us, particularly in managing staff which is our most significant programme of costs.”
With the trust’s substantial swings in forecasting, there are scenarios where Daniel suggests they are not confident in the numbers. This means that they have to say no to school requests during the year, only to discover later that budgets were available. But, he added, “with IMP we always know the accuracy is close to what is projected”.
Daniel emphasised the impact of IMP Planner on his team’s wellbeing: “Our finance team are hoping this investment will make a big difference to their workload and wellbeing.”
Daniel also added that the trust are “looking forward to being part of the wider IMP community. As a MAT we are very outward-facing and look to others. As we establish IMP tools, we will certainly look at how we can support others too. This will all help what we anticipate will be a period of stabilisation in the trust, with further growth coming from existing schools (pupil numbers, nurseries and sixth form, etc.), and not necessarily from more schools joining.”