Happy New Year

Posted  4th September 2015

The new school year has started. I’m sure that as well as re-kindling some old acquaintances all schools will be welcoming new colleagues, new pupils and new parents. Many new academies will have also have opened.

School Business Services extends a warm welcome and wish a happy new (school) year to both new and old readers. Our Finance Blog, for both LA maintained schools and academies, will continue to provide topical news and comment to support you over the coming year.

Salary Cost Changes

There were a number of changes to teachers' pay costs that came into effect from 1 September. We expect schools and academies will have included these in their 2015/2016 budgets, but you need to ensure that changes are correctly applied to your staff.

Teachers' Pay: The recommendations for teachers' pay need to be applied from 1 September, in summary these are:

  • A 1% uplift to be applied to the statutory minima and maxima of all pay ranges in the national pay framework, including TLR and SEN allowances, with two exceptions – a 2% increase to the maximum of the main pay range and no increase to the maxima of the eight headteacher pay groups.
  • Where a classroom teacher/leadership group member is paid on the minimum of their pay range/band, their salary must be uplifted to the new minimum.
  • For all other classroom teachers/leadership group members, schools must determine – in accordance with their own pay policy – how to apply the uplift to individual salaries and pay ranges and how to take account of the uplift to the national framework in making individual pay progression decisions.
Schools and academies should have reviewed their pay policies before the end of the school year to ensure they take account of the arrangements from 1 September. Staff appraisals should be completed over the next 2 months so that pay statements can be issued to teaching staff before 31 October 2015. Whilst non-teaching staff are not covered by the teachers' pay award, these staff still need to be appraised in accordance with the school’s policy on performance reviews. Teachers Pension Scheme Contributions: Don’t forget that the revised Employers’ Contribution rate of 16.48% was effective from 1 September 2015.

Academy Year End

The financial year end for academies is 31 August 2015. To help support school business managers in preparing for their audit School Business Services have produced a 34 point checklist. If you would like a copy please email us at financeservicedesk@schoolbusinessservices.co.uk. If you need help in completing any item on the checklist do let us know, we’d be happy to help. Either email us or call 0845 300 8179 • option 2. The EFA have advised new academies that the desk top land & buildings valuations that your auditors will require are now available in the AY 2014-15 section of Document Exchange within the EFA Information Exchange portal.

EFA Calendar & Updates

The following notes are included in the EFA Calendar for September:

  • Action: new academy trusts intending to defer or submit dormant financial statements for 2014 to 2015 to notify EFA
  • General annual grant: first payment made for 2015 to 2016
  • Publication: online training videos on 2016 to 2017 academy funding
In addition the EFA continued to publish regular bulletins during the summer break. If you missed any of these then click here. And remember School Census date is on Thursday 1st October 2015; this census is important for future funding allocations.

New Handbook

The Academies Financial Handbook 2015 published in July comes into effect and replaces the earlier version with effect from 1 September 2015. A full copy of the handbook can be found here. The handbook strengthens the requirements on academy trust governance, and emphasises that trusts must publish details of their governance arrangements on their websites. Whilst admittedly unscientific, our summer research of academy websites suggested that many are not compliant with governance requirements. We are happy to check your website if you get in touch with us. Changes between the last and current handbook are summarised on pages 5 and 6 of the new handbook. While Annex C (from page 44) lists the requirements that academies must have in place, and we would recommend all academies and free schools use this checklist as part of their compliance arrangements.

Academies Annual Report 2013/2014

In June 2015 the Secretary of State published a report on the progress made by the Academy Programme. This is the fourth annual report to Parliament on the performance of academies and covers the 2013/14 academic year. The report provides details of the number and percentage of primary and secondary schools that have converted to academies by local authority area. There are also details of the number of approved academy sponsors, with a breakdown of the diversity of those sponsors, and comparisons between LA schools and academies of those pupils achieving Level 4 at KS2 and pupils gaining 5+ A-C GCSEs, with the data broken down by pupil characteristic. Should you require a copy of the report click here. In a recent speech made by David Cameron, following publication of the report, he set out his vision for ‘our schooling system’. He said academies improved standards and that power should be in the hands of headteachers and teachers, not bureaucrats. His speech followed an announcement in June that up to 1,000 schools in England, including failing ones, would become academies.

How Old Are Your Windows?

Our IT colleagues have reminded us support for Windows Server 2003 ended on 14 July 2015. If your school has this software on any of its servers please talk to your IT service provider or us here at School Business Services on how you can upgrade your systems. See - http://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/server-cloud/products/windows-server-2003/

Are you connected?

This Finance Blog is one of four blogs published by School Business Services – we hope you subscribe to them all. If not you may have missed an exciting new product to help you manage your out of school clubs. It’s time throw out your spreadsheets and notepads, and gain great savings in admin time. See - http://www.schoolbusinessservices.co.uk/managing-school-clubs-trips-takes-leap-future/