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Members' Articles

Academy schools need Auditel

by Steven Godfrey from Auditel

06th March 2014

Post Type: Education Item

Academies’ trustees and accounting officers have a duty to “prepare financial plans so as to secure … short-term and long-term financial health” as defined in section 2 of the Academies Financial Handbook 2013.  These plans might require revision in the light of two developments:

  • Academy schools face a 33% rise in employer’s National Insurance contribution from 2015 onwards, which is likely to cost each academy the equivalent of two or three teaching staff.
  • Academies’ Educational Services Grant will be cut by approximately 20% per pupil in 2015.

Put simply – academy schools will need to make economies, and be seen to do so.  In 2013, for the first time academy schools were required to submit “Value For Money Statements” to “demonstrate to parents and the public that the academy trust’s use of public assets and funds has provided good value for money during the year and to identify opportunities for potential improvement.”  The statement must be published on the school’s website within one month of being filed.  The VFMS guide includes the following parameters to demonstrate that the trust has tried to get more for its money:

  • Fitness for purpose:
  • Have services and contracts been appraised or renegotiated to get the best mix of quality and effectiveness for the least cost ?
  • Benchmarking:
  • Has the trust benchmarked its costs against similar organisations to identify areas for making savings ?
  • Options appraisal:
  • Have different options been considered before making purchases, including an assessment of the costs and benefits of the alternatives over the longer term? Has tendering been used appropriately and effectively to get the best deal ?

Auditel’s tried and tested methodology provides documentary evidence that all the above requirements have been met, whilst working quietly in the background to ensure best value for the school.  We already work with many schools and colleges across the UK and Ireland, examples of which can be found here.  To discover how we can help your school, please contact me here.

5 Mother's Day Gift Ideas

by Noel Greenwood from GWD

03rd March 2014

Post Type: Education Item

An old saying states, “A man’s work is from sun to sun, but a mother’s work is never done” and this quote is highly appropriate in the lead up to Mother’s Day.

Mothers are no doubt some of the most unsung heroes of the modern world, and with that in mind, it is highly appropriate that a day is set aside where the focus is on them for a change.  With Mothering Sunday now firmly on the horizon, the time has come for you to grab your mum a gift to show her how much you appreciate her.

We tend to make a lot of packaging for Mother’s Day, and consequently we’re pretty well placed to explain what some of the most popular Mother’s Day gifts are.  Check out the top five (complete with some of the packaging we’ve made for these products):

1) Chocolate

Chocolate boxes

Chocolate boxes produced by GWD

Regina Brett once said, ‘when it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile’, and her feelings on the matter are shared by millions of people around the globe – most likely including the majority of mothers!

There’s a real sense of luxury in a perfectly arranged set of chocolates in a beautifully packaged box, and for that reason there are few better ways to show your appreciation for your mother’s tireless work than a beautiful box of luxury chocolates.

There may well be some detractors who say that a box of chocolates is a pretty boring present, and this is where it’s key to make sure you get something very special.  Buying her a tube of Smarties and a bar of Dairy Milk isn’t exactly going to excite her, so if you do go down the chocolate route, make sure you go for something that looks, feels and tastes like absolute luxury (much like the boxes pictured!).

2) Flowers

Flower boxes

Boxes produced for flowers by GWD

Again, we’re sticking with the tried and tested here, but a bunch of flowers is a great way to show your mum just how much you care.

For the added surprise factor why not get some flowers delivered straight to her door?  There are plenty of companies that will deliver flowers for you, and often they’ll offer a chocolate box as part of the bundle too!  The advantage of having flowers delivered to the door is that you’re more likely to get a luxury ‘flower box’ that holds the bouquet like the one pictured.

3) Cosmetics/Perfume

Cosmetic boxes

Bespoke boxes made for cosmetics by GWD

A fantastic way to reward your mother for all her hard work is with some of her favourite cosmetics or perfume.

Buying her favourite lipstick or perfume is not just a great way to treat her, but it also provides that personal touch that shows her that you’ve really thought this present through.

A tip with this one – make sure that you’re buying her something she either uses or something you have a strong suspicion that she likes – getting it wrong is an expensive mistake.

4) Champagne/Wine

Wine bottle box

Presentation boxes for fine wines and champagnes produced by GWD

There’s nothing quite like a nice bottle of bubbly or a lovely smooth red is there?  Whatever your mother’s tipple is, a nice bottle of something is a great Mother’s Day gift.

If you want to make it extra special, why not buy her bottle complete with its own presentation box?  One of the joys of receiving a gift is that first few seconds when you take in what someone has got you, so those finishing touches are well worth consideration.

5) Jewellery

Jewellery packaging

GWD-made boxes for jewellery

Again, I should issue caution – if you’re buying jewellery, make sure you have a good reason for thinking that your mum will like what you’ve got.  Maybe take a look in one of her well-thumbed magazines and see whether she’s turned the pages down on any jewellery pages, or ask family members if you’re not sure.


Noel Greenwood is the Managing Director of GWD Ltd, the designers and manufacturers of presentation and promotional packaging.  You can reach him on (01279) 416093 or at the company’s website:

Employees In Uniforms ARE Good for Business.

by Graeme Procter from Saffron Apparel

26th February 2014

Post Type: New Member Article

A recent study conducted in the U.S. by Harris Interactive revealed that of 65% of U.S. adults confirmed that a uniformed employee has a positive impact on their perception of a company.


When asked specifically about how the presentation of an employee impacted upon their perception of a company they resonded that employees in uniform;


a) Improved the overall image of the company - portraying it as more professional than those who do not have uniformed employees

b) made the company feel a safer and more secure business

c) demonstarted that the company cared about its employees and its own image


Harris Interactive concluded that ;

'Company uniforms are an investment that pays off. They speak volumes about a copany's image, its service and safety protocols'

'To select a uniform provider, it is important that you look for a partner who focuses on supplying; trusted brands, quality garments to suit both female and male body shapes, garments that are suited to your specific industry sector, in-house decoration facilities, fast turnaround, competitive (not the cheapest pricing) prices, a sample scheme and a flexible attitude'

Although the research was conducted in the U.S., we believe the principles apply equally across this side of the pond.....

As a trusted supplier to a number of ;SOHO's, SME's, PLC's, Schools, Colleges, Universities, Professional & Amatuer Sports Teams and to the general public throught the U.K. we believe that Saffron Apparel Ltd has the right product mix and attitude to help your business Stand Out From The Crowd.


For more information or advice, please call 01799 542141 or email

Businesses support expansion of Stansted Airport

by Jeremy Rose from Creative Solutions

25th February 2014

Post Type: Newspaper Article
Businesses support expansion of Stansted Airport


Newport Business Association NBA totally supports the expansion of business at Stansted Airport. For too long the North-side of Stansted Airport, where the real business of air passenger business traffic takes place, has been ignored and found floundering in these economic times.
Jeremy Rose, NBA founder, stated: "The North side of Stansted Airport, the business hub, is undervalued by Stansted Airport Limited, and seems to be a huge embarrassment to Uttlesford District Council. More opportunities should be developed to enable local businesses to start up and use land for business related use — not stifle the economic development because NIBI's want to restrict use to just airport related use. Only 22% of staff working at Stansted Airport come from Uttlesford. The business opportunities are huge if only Uttlesford District Council would grasp the initiative and develop the North side of the airport into a thriving hub for business related enterprises."
On Friday 28 February, Penny Stephens from InFlite, will explain why she chose Stansted Airport to be site for her family business, and how she's suffering from big competitors like BAA at Heathrow, Luton Airport business carriers and a lack of support from Uttlesford District Council. 
Penny explained: "Business Aviation is predominantly used by business leaders, enabling travel by entrepreneurs whose enterprise and energy are a cornerstone of economic growth rather than wealthy people travelling for leisure.  The Business Aviation sector contributed a total of 19.7bn Euros in annual gross value added (GVA) to the European economy in 2007 and accounted for 164k jobs.  Farnborough which is a dedicated Business Aviation Airport generates some £17 million to the local economy and employing over 1,000 at the airport site and around 4,000 in the airports wider supply chain and induced employment."
"The majority of business flights from the US, Middle East, Hong Kong and India arrive and depart at night to enable them to achieve a full working day prior to departing that evening to do it all again in another country.  Noise levels of modern Business Jets are better than scheduled airlines. Business jets are able, given the weight and performance, to depart the runway earlier and attain altitude quicker than scheduled airlines  therefore, reducing the noise environmental footprint in the local area."
A spokesman from Stansted Airport commented: "Stansted Airport has long been a catalyst for economic activity and opportunity within the regional business community, helping support jobs, inbound tourism and key to attracting inward investment. Now, under the ownership of M.A.G, we have very ambitious plans to grow passenger numbers by attracting new airlines and increasing the range of destinations with existing customers. We’ve already secured long-term deals with both easyJet and Ryanair so our focus now is to broaden the route network, offer passengers more choice and create a richer mix of airlines operating out of Stansted, including business carriers."
Jeremy Rose agrees with these sentiments, but urges Stansted Airport to get its act together: "Airports are always a reflection of the regions they serve — what businesses want, what communities want. We all know our region is already hugely successful and packed full of entrepreneurial spirit but we believe by working together our aim that Stansted should fulfil its full potential can go hand in hand with regional growth and shared prosperity." 
If you'd like to put your views across, and hear the case for expanding the business of Stansted Airport, please contact Jeremy Rose, NBA on 01799 541114 or email to reserve your seat. Meeting starts at 07.45am, Coach & Horses, Newport, Essex CB11 3TR

Four Reasons to Keep Corporate Entertainment on Your Marketing Budget

by Shelley from Sourcerer Events

19th February 2014

Post Type: New Member Article
Four Reasons to Keep Corporate Entertainment on Your Marketing Budget

In times of austerity, you may think corporate entertainment should be one of the first initiatives to be cut from the marketing budget.

But it’s important to realise that throwing a corporate party can boost a company’s image, with benefits reaching to both client engagement and staff morale.

Here are a few reasons why it’s imperative you keep that corporate entertainment budget high on your marketing priority list:

Stand out from the crowd

When all your competitors are slashing their expenses by cutting down on corporate entertainment, by holding a company party you will certainly stand out from the crowd.  Corporate parties send a positive message to both clients and staff alike, reassuring everyone that you are a solid company looking to the future.

Boost morale and productivity

If your staff have been reassured of the company’s success through a corporate event, you can guarantee that productivity and morale will receive a boost, creating a
virtuous circle. What’s more, in larger establishments, it’s a chance for cross-department interaction, and you can also get staff involved with the party planning process, designating certain employees to liaise with the event planner.

Put a face to a name

Personal interaction with business partners makes an incredible difference. By throwing a corporate event, your clients will be able to put a face to a name, making
them feel like an individual and therefore special. Ensure all client-facing staff are in attendance at the event so your clients can meet all their contacts.

Launch a new product

Corporate entertainment isn’t just about reassurance; holding a corporate party is also an excellent way to launch a new product, particularly as all staff and a good
portion of your client base will be in attendance, saving vital time, energy and money in getting the word out there.

Low-Key Corporate Entertainment Can Work Equally as Well as High-Profile

You don’t have to blow the budget to have a successful event; sometimes a simple function tailored to the interests and needs of your clients works just as well as
something flashy. Why not hire an events coordinator to help keep the party planning budget under control?

Still Not Sure About the Benefits of a Corporate Event? Talk to an Experienced Event Planner.

Still debating the benefits that throwing a corporate event could bring to your company? Talk to an experienced event planner. By hiring someone else to take
on the party planning, not only will you experience all of the advantages above, but you’ll also have none of the stress, leaving you to enjoy the party.


Shelley Morris

01371 811108