Academy Schools

Accounting practices and regulations within the Academy sector are very detailed, complex and subject to frequent change by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).

Rickard Luckin’s specialist education team are friendly, knowledgeable and experienced, working with a broad range of schools to provide tailored advice, support and guidance.

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Kate Bell

Advisory support to schools in the Academy sector

Since Academy Trusts were introduced in 2010, there has been an ongoing conversion process of schools moving over to the Academy world.

Academy Conversion Support

We can help schools throughout the process of Academy conversion, including advising Governors and the management team on the implications of transferring to Academy Status from a governing, organisational and financial perspective. This includes:

  • Working with you to plan and organise the smooth transition from a local authority school to Single Academy Trust (SAT) status
  • Support in preparing budget forecasts in the Academy format incorporating the relevant funding streams
  • Implementing relevant financial systems, controls and reporting structures required for the Trustees and the ESFA
  • Providing Trustee training to newly appointed Trustees / Governors to ensure they understand their roles and responsibilities in the context of the Academy framework

Multi Academy Trusts (MATs)

The government agenda continues to encourage schools to join forces by way of a Multi Academy Trust. The aspiration is for wider knowledge sharing and cascading of good practice in order to drive up the standards and outcomes for all learners, along with an expectation of increased financial efficiency through pooled resources.

The process of creating, joining or expanding an existing MAT requires significant thought, due diligence and planning.

The key areas for Governors / Trustees to consider are:

  • Educational objectives: understanding how the key objective of driving up educational standards will be achieved within the new combined MAT structure
  • Organisational structure: clarity in terms of which individual school Governors will continue to act as Trustees on the overall MAT Board; key roles within the wider leadership team; assessing the overall level of input and influence each party has over their individual school and the wider trust management and governance
  • Financial implications: obtaining the relevant information and advice to assess the financial health of the other party and understanding the impact on your own reserves and ongoing financial position
  • Culture: as with any merger of organisations, a compatible culture is key to ensuring a successful outcome

Our education team can provide advice and support throughout this review and due diligence process.

Helping schools to stay in control of their finances

  • Preparation of statutory accounts to comply with the Companies Act, Charities SORP and Academies Accounts Direction
  • Audit of statutory accounts including regularity review and including presentation of targeted recommendations to trustees following our auditing process
  • Separate provision of “Internal audit” services for Trusts that may wish to outsource this requirement, working in conjunction with the Academy’s Audit committee
  • Audit and submission of teachers’ pension returns
  • Training for new Trustees on their role and duties under the Charities Act and understanding Academy accounts of reporting
  • Procedural assistance; such as implementing new software; reviewing and updating financial handbooks; assistance with preparation of school budgets and submission of the many ESFA returns
  • Financial management reporting reviews; comprising of a critical review of your existing management accounts format and internal audit control functions. We then report back with any opportunities identified for efficiency savings in the process, along with any recommendations for improvement to ensure compliance with the ESFA requirements
  • Management accounting services; including providing regular management information for the Trustees or training your team to prepare relevant and effective reports in-house; implementation of dashboard style reports for wider Trustees
  • Support with applying for ESFA approval for capital budgets and operating leases for new buildings
  • Our dedicated payroll team provides a comprehensive solution that incorporates teachers’ and non-teachers’ pension requirements.
  • VAT health checks and guidance to ensure the correct status is adopted between VAT registration or VAT 126 re-claims
  • Specialist VAT advice for capital projects

Keeping up to date

Since the Academies Act 2010, there have been requirements on Academy Trustees, Members, Accounting Officers and Chief Financial Officers to ensure there are controls and robust financial governance in place at Academy Schools.

With the publication of the Academies Financial Handbook and the annual updates by ESFA, it’s never been more important for Academy Trust leaders to stay on top of the regulatory changes impacting their role and their school.

Our regular Education and Academies Bulletins distil news from ESFA and need-to-know information across the sector into a single, easy-to-read update.

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Our education team

We have been working successfully with Academy schools since 2010 and supporting local authority and independent schools for over 40 years.

Our practical support enables many schools to avoid the unwelcome cost of recruiting additional in-house resources to cope with the extra financial routines and requirements of being an Academy School.

Our specialist education team are very proud to maintain a strong community and business presence, ensuring our advice is always relevant and informed. Additionally, many of our senior team members are, or have been, school governors or charity trustees – enabling us to offer a well-rounded, practical and relatable approach.

Get in touch with our expert team

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