In recent blogs we have reminded you about deadlines for the submission of Audited Accounts, Value for Money Statements and the Annual Accounts Return. On the 20 January the EFA’s own accounts to 31 March 2014 were placed in the public domain.
In this blog we look at that this tells us about Academy Trusts. But first that has the EFA planned for February?
A quieter month for schools and their business managers in February:
- Submit spring school census (by 11 February)
- Publish their admissions appeals timetable for 2015
- Publishes guide to completing 2015 to 2016 budget forecast return for all academy trusts open as at 31 March 2015
- Publishes guide to funding allocations for 2014 to 2015 for academies opening between 1 April 2015 and 31 August 2015
- Publishes March accounts return and guidance for academy trusts that did not prepare audited financial statements as at 31 August 2014, or opened new academies between 1 September 2014 and 31 March 2015
- Publishes March accounts return online training video
- Issues 2015 to 2016 final funding allocations covering pre- and post-16 provision, 16 to 19 Bursary Fund, Residential Bursary Fund
Full planner available: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/efa-business-cycle
EFA Accounts to 31 March 2014
While academies have only recently sent in their Annual Accounts Returns (AAR) to assist with Department accounts for the current financial year, the Department for Education’s accounts to 31 March 2014 have recently been released. If you filled in an AAR last year, your figures are included in these accounts.
Within these accounts are the Education Funding Agencies Accounts – covering the EFA and the 2,585 academy trusts (3,905 academy schools) funded at 31 March 2014. Full details can be found at the following address, the web page also provides the EFA’s own summary on the progress it is making.
The National Audit Office (NAO) made three qualifications to the accounts:
- A material misstatement that arises from academy trusts being consolidated using data from different accounting periods
- The recognition of land and buildings in the accounts
- A material misstatement regarding the comparative figures for 2013
The report reveals that Academy Trusts paid local auditors almost £26m in audit fees (up from £13m in 2013), which is just under £10,000 for each Academy Trust. While the EFA £5.0m in fees to consolidate the financial statements.
The NAO have reported that they do not see the current arrangements for consolidating Academy Trust accounts into the Departments Accounts as sustainable. Two possible solutions are proposed:
- Amend all academy trust year ends from 31 August to 31 March; or
- Request all academy trusts prepare an additional set of accounts at 31 March – which the EFA estimates will cost Academy Trusts an additional £30m per annum.
While the EFA dismiss both options it is clear the National Audit Office will continue to press on this matter.
Below are a few of the performance results reported as they relate to Academies:
- 80% of academy trusts submitted their Budget Forecast Returns by 31 July 2013
- 92% of academy trusts submitted their accounts and audit management letter by 31 December 2013
- 74% of academy trusts submitted their Value for Money statements by 31 December 2013
- 93% of academy trusts submitted their August Accounts Return by 31 January 2014
- The EFA had concerns on 1% of academy trusts at 31 March 2014; that’s 26 Trusts
- There were 45 contacts received that included concerns about academy schools
How did you do – have you completed all your returns on time?
New Governors Handbook
In other news that you may have missed, the Department for Education has released an updated Governor’s Handbook. The government is encouraging governors to focus on three core strategic functions:
- Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction;
- Holding the Head to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils;
- Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent.”
Couple of things you may want to check your compliance with relates to the disclosure of information by Governors and the Statutory Policies that all schools should have in place. Governors are reminded that:
‘In the interests of transparency, all schools and academies should publish, including on their website, up to date details of the structure of the governing body and any committees, together with the names of their governors and their particular roles and responsibilities within that structure. They should also publish an annual statement setting out the key issues that have been faced and addressed by the governing body over the last year, including an assessment of the impact of the governing body on the school.’
Separate additional guidance is provided on Statutory Policies that should be in place. See https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/statutory-policies-for-schools