ISBL School Optimisation Tool (I-SOT)

A tool to help you implement ICFP in your school.




Integrated Curriculum Financial Planning

ICFP stands for Integrated Curriculum Financial Planning. It helps a school use resources as effectively and efficiently as possible. It does so by systematically analysing all aspects of the educational provision within a school setting to ensure that financial management planning ensures an appropriate balance in the allocation and expenditure of resources.

ICFP uses a reasonably simple set of metrics that assist with collaborative decision-making across the leadership triangle, requiring involvement from school business professionals, senior pedagogical leaders and governors/trustees.

You can read more about ICFP in the ISBL Approach to ICFP.


About the I-SOT

It is important to accurately calculate the 12 Key metrics and Balance metrics used in ICFP so that you can start to investigate potential areas of inefficiency and make informed, collaborative decisions. The ISBL School Optimisation Tool (ISOT) helps you to calculate the metrics quickly and reliably.

The I-SOT:

  • Uses the ISBL Approach to ICFP.
  • Guides you step-by-step to enter your school’s data.
  • Calculates the 12 Key Metrics for you.
  • Applies a RAG rating system to the metrics to indicate which areas may be of concern and require further investigation.
  • Is supported by accompanying documentation to help you understand the 12 Key Metrics and the calculations used.


How does it work?

The I-SOT is straight forward and easy to use.

  1. Gather your school's data together. Guidance is provided about what data to get from your MIS and other sources that are needed for the data inputs into I-SOT.
  2. Enter your schools data into the I-SOT.
  3. The I-SOT calculates the ICFP metrics for your school.
  4. The Primary or Secondary thresholds are then applied to your data, providing you with a RAG rated dashboard.
  5. Use the dashboard to diagnose any possible issues and to inform your management decisions.


Which school types can the I-SOT be used in?

The current version of the I-SOT:

  • is suitable to use with primary and secondary maintained, SAT MAT and independents. 
  • can be used to calculate the metrics for special schools, however since the context of a special school can vary enormously, there is not a RAG rating available for this school type.
  • only calculates the metrics for one school at a time, and so if you want to use it in the context of multiple schools, you will need to calculate the metrics for each individual school and then self-aggregate the results. You will also need to purchase the multi licence.


What benchmarking thresholds does the I-SOT use?

The I-SOT applies either Primary or Secondary thresholds to your schools data to produce the RAG rated dashboard. These thresholds are reviewed and updated twice a year, making our ICFP tool one of the most up-to-date available.

The thresholds used in the RAG rating are based on DfE statistical data and have been developed through our experience of applying ICFP to a wide range of schools’ data through insights from the ISBL School Resource Management Advisers. The Green thresholds are, from our experience, where schools should ideally aim for with consideration to their own strategic aims and context.

The I-SOT should be used alongside a thorough an understanding of how to use and implement ICFP in your school/trust. Context is key when interpreting ICFP metrics and there may be good reasons why your school falls into another threshold band. You should use the information from the I-SOT to further investigate and diagnose possible areas of concern.


What licences are available to purchase?

There are two license types available:

  • Single: for use with a single school
  • Multi: for use with multiple schools (e.g. MATs).


What support is available?

I-SOT is being offered as a non-supported tool.

  • All metrics and thresholds are correct at time of purchase.
  • The thresholds used within the I-SOT are reviewed and updated twice a year. Existing customers will then be issued with an updated version of the I-SOT.
  • The I-SOT will be updated and developed over time, existing customers may be offered the opportunity to upgrade their I-SOT version which may be at cost or free to charge.
  • The I-SOT is an Excel based ICFP tool. We recommend that you use Excel 2013+ or 365 on Windows. Some of the more advanced functionality in the I-SOT is currently not supported for Macs.
  • Via functions in the I-SOT you can access a User Guide and other documentation to help support you to use the I-SOT to calculate the metrics you need.


Is there any ICFP training available?

We run a range of ICFP training. What level of ICFP training you require will depend on your knowledge and experience of ICFP to-date.

If you are new to ICFP, we recommend that you attend this ICFP Fundamentals webinar to gain an understanding of the principles of ICFP and how it can be used.


















If you already have some knowledge and experience of ICFP, we recommend that you consider our intermediate training: Using ICFP accurately and effectively in your school (Part 1 and Part 2).


How much does the I-SOT cost?

There is an ISBL member rate and a Non member rate for all our training courses.

Single licence:

  • ISBL member rate: £165.00 +VAT
  • Non member rate: £215.00 +VAT


Multi licence:

  • ISBL member rate: £275.00 +VAT
  • Non member rate: £325.00 +VAT


If you are paying by Credit Card, the I-SOT will be sent to you via email within two working days. If you are paying by Invoice / BACS, the I-SOT will be sent to you via email within two working days of your payment being received.

One of the benefits of being an ISBL member is being able to access the member rates for training and conferences. If you are not a member, you can find out more about joining ISBL here.

To be able to access the ISBL member rate, your membership needs to be active before you book your place on the course.


How can I purchase the I-SOT?

You can purchase the I-SOT from our Training Calendar here.