Welcome to 2015

Posted  6th January 2015
Out with the old and in with the new - welcome to 2015. For many academies the period around the year-end is the busiest period for School Business Managers, so we hope Christmas was all you wished for. Year End Tasks With the end of 2014, all Academies should by now have submitted their Audited Accounts and Management Letters to the Department for Education using the new Secure Access Portal. Those Trust’s with Academies open on 31 August 2014 must now complete their Annual Accounts Return using the details in their accounts, whilst new Academies can look forward to completing their March Accounts Return. An EFA Webinar on the Accounts Return is available to assist with the completion. Portal is at https://sa.education.gov.uk/idp/Authn/UserPassword The EFA Planner sets out further actions for Academies and the DfE this month. Academies:
  • Spring school census
  • Submit their accounts returns for year ending 31 August 2014 by 31 January (In its 18 December Weekly Update the EFA advised that an updated Return had been published, earlier copies remain valid though - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/efa-e-bulletin-18-december-2014-issue-73)
  • Academy trusts must publish their financial statements and value for money statements as at 31 August 2014 on their websites by 31 January
  • Pays third of 4 pupil premium payments for 2014 to 2015 financial year
Lessons from Preparing Audited Accounts With the completion of the Audited Accounts, it is worth spending some time reflecting upon the lessons learnt this year. I would encourage School Business Managers to speak to the Head, Governors and Auditor about particular concerns or areas for improvement. I believe many will have found the increased emphasis on reporting transactions between connected parties and irregular staff payments a challenge. Not only are the business interests of Trustees, Governors and Senior Staff reported on, but also interests of close family members. There is also a requirement to publish this information on the schools website. Whilst the vast majority of Academies do not report any related party transactions (just 976 of the 2,256 academies did so in accounts to 31 August 2013), and for most the disclosures made are fully compliant (the EFA reported that only 17 academies had disclosures that were irregular or improper); Academies are using public money and will continue to be under media scrutiny with a small number of cases causing outrage. For a copy of the EFA report on Related Party Transactions see https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/EFA_review_of_related_party_transactions.pdf If you want to share the lesson you learnt – please get in touch and we will include in a future blog. More Academies Expected A couple of things spotted in the press that suggests the growth of Academies will continue, particularly in the north:
  • In the Autumn statement, the Chancellor announced  that £7 billion will be invested in the North with the focus being on manufacturing, scientific research, new schools and academies. This will make the conversion to academy status more attractive for schools. The rate of conversions to academy status had slowed down after the initial rush in 2011 and 2012, but this announcement is likely to encourage schools in the North.
Whilst the Education Secretary’s public stance is that she has no preference of any particular school type, with the election due in 17 weeks, academy expansion is likely to be a topic that continues to be debated. Educating Essex Many of you have seen Educating Essex on Channel 4. School Business Services are proud to support the Frederick Bremer School, and would encourage those reading this blog to sponsor staff at the school as they raise funds for the ‘Hardship Fund’, by running a half marathon on 22nd February. See. http://www.bremer.org.uk/news-and-events/latest-news/enjoyed-the-tv-programme-sponsor-our-run/