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ESMS - Head of Finance - Edinburgh

Public / Third Sector - Qualified Accountancy & Finance
Ref: 2354 Date Posted: Monday 01 Jul 2024

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Wilkinson & Associates are excited to be partnering with ESMS schools in Edinburgh to assist in sourcing a Head of Finance. 

The School

ESMS is a vibrant family of independent schools for 3-18 year olds in the heart of Edinburgh. They offer a co-educational nursery and junior school, single-sex but closely twinned secondary education; The Mary Erskine School and Stewart Melville College, and a co-educational sixth form.

The story of ESMS is in fact the history of three separate institutions; Mary Erskine founded in 1694, Melville College founded in 1832 and Daniel Stewart's College in 1855. The three institutions formally united in the 1970s and by the turn of the 21st century, they had developed into the largest family of independent schools in Europe.

They offer a wide programme of activities, including sports, bands, orchestras, clubs, drama, community activities, house activities and outdoor learning residentials, helping the children to become more confident and to develop skills, interests and friendships that last a lifetime.

ESMS’s mission is to develop grounded, resilient, accomplished children, with strong values who go out into the world equipped with everything they need to lead full and happy lives.

The Position

Reporting to the Bursar, the Head of Finance has oversight of ESMS’s finance function from end to end, including financial reporting, planning and analysis.

A key aspect of the role will be to work closely with IT to drive change, improve management information and automate processes.

The role will work closely internally with senior leadership in the management of the Schools’ operations and has oversight of the work of Accounts Payable and Receivable staff.

Key Responsibilities

  • Manage the annual audit process, and compilation of annual statutory accounts for both schools and trading companies, in recognition of all relevant legislation.
  • Principal point of contact with HMRC, SPPA, OSCR, Companies House and other governing bodies. Submission of all external reporting including Office of National Statistics Quarterly and annual returns, Gender Pay Gap reporting, Baines Cutler annual reporting.
  • Working with the Development Team, manage the application of resources from Melville College Trust, Sponsors and other individual donors. Oversee the annual bursary setting process.
  • Support the Bursar in the development of financial planning in alignment with the School's Strategic Improvement plan. Work with senior management to formulate strategies and plans for growth.
  • Contribute fully to the development of company strategy across all areas of the business, challenging assumptions and decision-making as appropriate and providing financial analysis and guidance on all activities, plans, targets and business drivers.
  • Ensure that company financial systems are robust, compliant and support current activities and future growth.
  • Maintenance of appropriate and effective systems and procedures for financial control in line with regulatory and audit requirements and agreed policies, including any changes in tax law applicable to schools.
  • Management of cash and payroll functions
  • Leadership of annual budget setting process, ensuring budgeting processes are carried out and reviewed.
  • Take responsibility for cash management policies and debt recovery.
  • Present annual accounts to stakeholders.
  • Lead and develop the Finance team.
  • Analysing and managing risk within the business.

The Candidate

  • Qualified accountant (ACA).
  • Post qualification experience in a commercial environment.
  • Strong IT skills and data driven person.
  • Exceptional communication skills at all levels being able to present financial information to non - finance members of staff.
  • Experience of presenting strategic financial information board level.
  • Experience of team leadership and development.
  • Strong interpersonal and teamwork skills.
  • Open, transparent, well organised and a self-starter.
  • Ability to handle high levels of pressure and critical decision-making.
  • Experience of working in an education environment desirable.
  • Project management experience desirable.


  • School fee reductions.
  • 40 days annual holiday leave including statutory holidays.
  • Use of school facilities including the swimming pool and fitness centre outside of school hours.