Business Services Update for Schools
I hope you all had a relaxing Easter break and write to you now with the latest news regarding the business services that your school receives from Oxfordshire County Council.
Closure of Quest Business Unit
Sadly Quest Business Unit closed in December 2015 and we said goodbye to David Matthew and Rachel. I would like to thank them here for all of the work they did to administer the traded services to schools. We already miss them.
Traded services to schools are now organised differently. Children Education & Families Directorate administer their traded services through the Schools & Learning Team. Further information is available here
Schools receive Business Services from Environment & Economy Directorate and this is update is about these services.Generalinformationcan be found here
Many thanks for the booking forms maintained schools have sent through. As schools are nowreceiving services in the new financial year, we have assumed maintained schools require the same services as last year if we did not receive a booking form. Academies will need to renew services in June, ready for the new contractual period which will start in September. We will make an appropriate booking form available to academies shortly.
Charges for Business Services to maintained schools
Charges will be applied to maintained schools using an internal trading document in the form of a Business Data Upload.
Where charges are refundable upon conversion to academy status they will be taken monthly. Where charges are not refundable upon conversion they will be taken once as an annual amount.
Joint Use Pool Hire will be taken termly.
The following GL codes will be used:HCC Education Financial Services / 5933
HCC Education Personnel Services / 5933
HCC IBC Payroll Services / 5933
Health & Safety / 5933
Office 365 support / 5934
Sophos Anti-virus / 5934
Occupational Health / 5933
Employee Assistance Programme / 5933
Insurances / Employee liability 3230
All others 5055
Admin fee 5933
Food with Thought / 5931
Joint Use Pool Hire / 5994
Display Energy Certificates / 5944
OCN & Web Filtering Services / 5934
All queries relating to charges for these services should be directed to me or
Charges for Business Services to academies
We plan to set up monthly recurring invoices for services to academies for March to August 2016 to cover the remainder of this contractual period.
Joint Use charges will be taken termly.
All queries relating to charges for these services should be directed to me or
Education Finance Network Meetings
It was good to see so many of you at the network briefings held in February. As mentioned during the sessions, the presentations are now available for you to download from the EFS website at Please cascade to other colleagues within school as appropriate.
The next round of briefings will take place on the following dates:
Monday 20 June, 9.30 – 12.30, North, Bloxham Mill Business Centre
Wednesday 22 June, 9.30 – 12.30, Central, Four Pillars Hotel
Wednesday 22 June, 1.30 – 4.30, Central, Four Pillars Hotel
Thursday 23 June, 9.30 – 12.30, South, Chiltern Edge School
If you would like to book a place, please complete our online booking form at:
You will be aware that there has been a delay in issuing contracts, for which we apologise. Our colleagues in the IBC have now cleared the backlog however we are aware that some contracts have contained errors, particularly those that include permanent and additional temporary hours. We have been exploring the reasons for these errors and are working to resolve them.There has also been some confusion about variable hour contracts. Here is some guidance to help avoid problems in the future.
Contracts including permanent and additional temporary hours
For teachers and support staff, there may be occasions when in addition to their permanent hours, they work extra hours on a temporary basis.
Normally, if this is just for a short period e.g. one or two terms, or for a small number of hours, the employee can claim payment for these hours by filling in a casual pay claim form. The hours are then input on to the system via the Time Entry screen.
Alternatively, if the extra hours are regular and longer term e.g. for three months or more, you may want to issue a new contract of employment, that includes the temporary hours:
To issue this type of contract follow these steps:
To amend an employee’s hours please use the request employee record change form. Work instructions are available in the portal
When in the screen entitled “new working pattern” answer YES to the question “Does this include fixed term or temporary hours”, you will then see the following fields:
- Number of permanent hours - enter the number of hours per week that are permanent
- Number of temporary hours - enter the number of hours per week that are fixed term or temporary
- Reason - use the drop down to pick the reason. Some reasons display (?) after the option. Where this shows, delete the question mark and replace with the employee's name.
Variable hour contracts for support staff
In Oxfordshire it has been our practice for many years to include as standard, in all contracts of employment for teaching assistants, cover and lunchtime supervisors, what is called the “variable hour” clause.
Whilst these contracts are for permanent hours, the ‘variable hour clause’ gives schools the flexibility to reduce an employee’s contracted hours, by up to the maximum of one third of their original contracted hours. This flexibility is normally used to reduce staff hours in response to reductions in pupil numbers. Two thirds of the original contracted hours are protected and cannot be varied.
Schools do not need to request this type of contract as they are issued as standard.
Previously these contracts would explicitly show the number of hours that could be varied, but this is not currently possible via the IBC system. However, we are exploring ways to ensure changes to these types of contracts correctly records the protected hours in the system.
We also recommend, when recruiting new support staff, that you explain this provision to them and the reason for it.
If and when schools need to use this clause, it will be important to look back on the employee’s record to check the hours that are protected.
To issue a new contract to an employee, following as part of a variable hours’ contract, record this as a permanent change in hours on the IBC system.
Read more guidance on Variable Contracts. Advice on varying contracts of employment is also available from your EPS HR Adviser.
Reporting contract errors
If you receive an incorrect contract, submit an IBC enquiry selecting:
Include the employee’s name and personnel number and full details of the issue.
We thank you for your ongoing patience on this matter.
IBC Guidance on SEN allowances and changes in hours
When the hours of an employee who is in receipt of an SEN allowance are changed, the SEN payment must be adjusted at the same time. If this is not done, their SEN payment will remain the same, as the system does not pro rata these payments automatically.
We have run a report which tells us that in many cases school users have processed such changes correctly, but we have also discovered some cases where changes have been made to employee’s hours without any adjustment to their SEN allowance. We therefore recommend that you look back through your “forms list” on the portal to check whether both adjustments were made to any staff where this applies.
Should you discover that a member of your staff has been receiving an incorrect SEN allowance since a change in their working hours, you will be able to back date a correction by entering the correct pro rata SEN payment via the “Request Employee Record Change” tile on the Portal. This will result in a pay correction and in cases where the member of staff has reduced their hours a recovery payment will need to be made and you should make aware any staff you believe will be affected.
HR & Finance User Group
Last term I called for nominations of people willing to represent schools on the new HR & Finance User Group.
The group will be chaired by HCC’s Customer Relationship Manager Derek Hall and facilitated by OCC’s Schools IBC Interface Manager Sandra Higgs and is expected to meet termly so that the views and requirements of Oxfordshire schools can be captured and presented to Oxfordshire County Council, the IBC Partnership Board as well as the individual managers of the services. The group will play an important role acting as a sounding board with first sight of information and input on future enhancements and developments of the services.
Please contact me as soon as possible if you are interested in representing schools in your sector or area. The first meeting will now be held on 11th May at 1.30pm at Unipart and the first task will be to review the first six months of the services.
Best wishes for the Summer Term
School Services Manager (IBC Interface)