The last blog of the 2015/2016 Academic Year. I write this as a new Education secretary, Justine Greening, is appointed.
No doubt over the summer we will see whether this changes the direction of government.
For now here is our review of the best summer reads!
Academies Financial Handbook
An updated Academies Financial Handbook (AFH) has been published by the EFA; this will take effect from 1 September 2016.
There are a number of changes from the previous handbook, which are summarised on page 5. Many of the changes relate to governance and financial control; and this reflects the findings made by the EFA when they have conducted audits of academy practices.
Our in a nutshell guide to the changes are:
- Boards of trustees should identify the skills they need and address any gaps in their skills through recruitment or training (Paragraph 1.5.14) – this links to requirements in the annual report to comment on the review of governance.
- The AFH has been aligned to the Governance Handbook and requires trust’s to publish their governance structure and scheme of delegation for governance functions (Paragraphs 1.5.15 and 2.5.2).
- All trusts must have a senior executive leader who should also be appointed as accounting officer, and that these roles must not rotate (Paragraphs 1.5.19, 2.1.2 and 2.1.8). A few MATS were rotating the role amongst their heads.
- Trusts must publish the relevant business and pecuniary interests of their accounting officer regardless of whether they are a trustee (Paragraphs 2.5.2 and 3.1.20). In addition local governors (as well as members of the trust board) are included when identifying relevant interests from close family relationships (Paragraph 3.1.18).
- Trusts must use Edubase to notify the Department for Education (DfE) of the appointment and vacating of the positions of member, trustee, local governor in a multi-academy trust, chair of trustees, chairs of local governing bodies, accounting officer and chief financial officer (Paragraph 4.7.4). You may recall the recent announcement of the extension of Edubase to cover governors (see EFA Bulletin 137 – 7 July)
- Variances between budget and actual income and expenditure must be understood and addressed by Governors (Paragraph 2.2.4). Accounting Officer and Chief Finance Officers can expect challenging questions!
- Exposure to investment products must be tightly controlled so that security of funds takes precedence over revenue maximisation (Paragraph 2.2.9).
- Where there are concerns about financial management in a trust the trust may be required to report information about its cash position to EFA (Paragraph 2.2.14).
- It is now a requirement, rather than a recommendation, for trusts to have a whistle blowing procedure (Paragraph 2.3.5).
- The EFA expects trusts to opt into the risk protection arrangement (RPA) unless commercial insurance provides better value for money (Paragraph 2.3.11).
- Trusts must implement reasonable risk management audit recommendations that are made to them by risk auditors (Paragraph 2.3.12).
- The audit committee’s oversight of its trust must extend to the controls and risks at its constituent academies, where the trust has them (Paragraph 2.4.5).
- Oversight must ensure that information submitted to DfE and EFA that affects funding is accurate and compliant – most notably pupil numbers on which funding is based (Paragraph 2.4.6). Trusts may want to include a review of census data in their internal audit arrangements.
- When considering staff severance payments, trusts must satisfy the conditions in the handbook and obtain the required approval before making a binding commitment to staff (Paragraphs 3.7.4, 3.7.6 and 3.7.7).
With the end of purdah associated with the referendum the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) has been able to report on pay recommendations for teachers. The STRB has recommended a 1% uplift to the minima and maxima of all classroom teacher pay ranges and leadership pay ranges in the national pay framework, and to classroom teacher allowances (TLRs and SEN). This is currently out to consultation and will appear in the new Education Secretary’s in-tray shortly.
If the pay award is confirmed, in September 2016 it will be a statutory requirement to uplift the salary of teachers paid on the minima of the ranges by 1%, i.e. to ensure no teacher is paid below the national range. Other than this, salaries in-between the minima and maxima of the ranges are at the discretion of individual schools. who should set their own pay points within a pay range as part of their pay policy.
Teachers’ Pension Scheme
The Teacher’s Pension Scheme (TPS) has been working with the Department for Education on a review of the administration of the Scheme, looking at the roles and structure. Changes to the employer landscape and in particular the growth of Academies have seen the number of employers increase to nearly 8,000. Similarly the growth of technology has allowed more functions to be delivered online.
The review has considered the roles and responsibilities of administrators / pay providers, academies and teachers themselves. A suggested model has been developed; TPS have emailed academy contacts with details and are now seeking views on this.
The deadline for receiving comments is Friday 12th August. Survey link.
Good Practice & Support
Foe those School Business Managers who are sat by the pool or on a beach in the coming weeks (we wish!), with nothing better to do (you are joking); we can recommend the following:
- Book an online demonstration with us for SBS Online. As you will see from the team’s recent blog, a number improvements have been made to the reports, that will help School Business Managers report to their SLT and governors. See latest blog.
- The EFA have produced a number of resources relating to schools financial health and efficiency. Additional details added in July.
- The NASBM / EFA good practice library has a number of draft policies and procedures that are useful to those reviewing school documents. Click here.
- If you are not receiving bulletins from the EFA sign up here.
Finally – to keep up to date with news and views – why not follow us on Twitter.