Academies – Budget return

Budget return

The ESFA will no longer require the submission of the Budget forecast return outturn (BFRO) which would normally be submitted in May.

They have also paused the following until after 30 June:

  • Academies Capital grant – annual assurance exercise
  • Land and building information request for new academies
  • Financial management governance self-assessment (FMGS)

Decisions on other returns have been deferred until later in the year.

The timetable for the submission for annual accounts is still currently 31 December. The ESFA have said that they will continue to monitor the position.

For further information, please click here.

Academies – Furlough of staff

The guidance in respect of staff at state funded schools, says that in general schools would not be expected to furlough staff. However, it is acknowledged that schools may have separate income streams, for example from catering and lettings. Where these income streams have stopped it may be appropriate to furlough staff. Schools should first seek to make necessary savings from their existing budget or consider options to redeploy these staff before furloughing them. Only after all other potential options have been fully considered should schools furlough those members of staff and seek support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The conditions to be met in order to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme are:

  • the employee works in an area of business where services are temporarily not required and whose salary is not covered by public funding
  • the employee would otherwise be made redundant or laid off
  • the employee is not involved in delivering provision that has already been funded
  • (where appropriate) the employee is not required to deliver provision for a child of a critical worker and/or vulnerable child
  • the grant from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme would not duplicate other public grants received and would not lead to financial reserves being created

The amount which can be reclaimed will be in line with the proportion of the paybill which could be considered to have been funded by a school’s private income.

For full guidance, please click here.

Academies – Support for Exceptional costs

On the 7 April, the Department for Education announced some exceptional funding for schools facing additional costs due to the COVID-19 crisis. The support covers the period up to the end of the 2020 Summer term. 

Schools will continue to receive their core funding through the GAG through to August 2021 for academies, regardless of whether schools are open or closed. Budgeted staff costs can therefore continue to be met, together with other ongoing budgeted financial commitments. SEND funding will also be unaffected by the current situation. 

The exceptional funding relates to the following additional costs: 

  • Increased premises costs incurred due to schools remaining open during normal school holiday periods (the Easter and Summer half term breaks). This may include additional utilities and hygiene costs 
  • Additional costs of supporting children on free school meals where those children are not attending school and where the meals are not covered by theNational Voucher Scheme 
  • Additional cleaning costs required as a response to actual or suspected cases of COVID-19
  • Other additional costs may be eligible for support – the school should contact DfE.CoronavirusHelpline@education.gov.uk

Funding will only be available where the school is considered unable to meet the cost from its current resources or would have to draw down on reserves which are maintained to ensure the school’s long-term financial sustainability. 

Where incurred, the school should deal with payment for the costs and retain full records of the expenditure. The government will publish details of how these may be reclaimed in June. 

The additional funding is limited per school based on pupil numbers (from the October 2019 census) as follows:

Mainstream schools   
250 pupils or fewer  £25,000 
251 to 500 pupils  £30,000 
501 to 1000 pupils  £50,000 
Over 1000 pupils  £75,000 
Special schools and alternative provision    
All schools  £50,000 

If you would like to discuss anything further please get in touch with a member of our Academies team.

This update originally appeared on the website of our colleagues at MHA Carpenter Box

Skills for Governors/Directors of Trusts

The Academies Accounts Direction requires that details of governance reviews are included in the Governance statement.   It recommends a review on an annual basis and the information required includes:

  • A description of the evaluation or review that has been undertaken during the year on the impact and effectiveness of the board of trustees, including any external review of governance.
  • A description of the findings, any action taken and the impact they had
  • An indication of when the Trust intends to conduct its next self-evaluation or external review of governance.

Why

The demands placed on the Directors of Trusts are extensive.  There are responsibilities under the Companies Act in addition to compliance with the Academies Financial Handbook and other responsibilities as custodians of public funds.

As a result, it is important that the relevant skills required are embodied by the Board.  These are also likely to change during the journey of the Trust as it develops so a regular review of skills should be undertaken.

As outlined in The Governance Handbook, evaluation of governance is a key feature of effective governance and includes

  • regular skills audits, aligned to the organisation’s strategic plan, to identify skill and knowledge gaps and which both define recruitment needs and inform a planned cycle of continuous professional development (CPD) activity including appropriate induction for those new to governance or to the board
  • processes for regular self-evaluation and review of individuals’ contribution to the board as well of the board’s overall operation and effectiveness
  • commissioning external reviews of board effectiveness, particularly at key growth or transition points, to gain an independent expert assessment of strengths and areas for development. Key growth and transition points could include conversion to a MAT.

The National Governance Association (NGA) recommends that a skills audit is completed annually and provides a framework by which this can be completed.

Trustee induction

A key part in ensuring that Trustees are as effective as possible is their initial induction. If this is done appropriately it ensures that Trustees can contribute effectively to discussions as soon as possible. 

Elements of an effective induction could include: –

  • Invitation to initial meeting to observe
  • Provision of information on appointment.  This could include: –
    • Minutes of recent meetings
    • Trust strategic plan
    • Staffing structure and useful contacts
    • Key policies including safeguarding, whistleblowing and fraud.
    • Academies Financial Handbook
    • The ESFA Governance Handbook
  • Tour of the schools within the Trust
  • Initial skills review
  • Mentoring by another Trustee

Regular skills audits and effective Trustee induction will provide the starting point for effective governance. 

If you would like any further information on the above or other topics, please contact a member of the academies team at MHA Moore and Smalley.  

Risk Management for Academies

Today’s video features Sarah Ollerton and Nicola Mason as they discuss risk management for academies.

This year the academies financial handbook has changed the requirement for a risk register from a should to a must, meaning academies need to update and review their existing risk register.

Watch to learn more!

Academy Advisor Summer 2019

The latest summer edition of the Academy Advisor is now available to read!In this issue we delve deep in to the following topics:

  • 2019 Academies Financial Handbook 
  • 2018-2019 Academies Accounts Direction 
  • Teachers Pay grant (Apr19-Mar20) 
  • Pension grant methodology 
  • Guidance on Academy Trust Finances 
  • ESFA Academy better financial reporting programme 
  • School Resource Management – Self Assessment Tool
  • Lord Agnew’s speech at the Festival of Education
  • Operating as a going concern
  • Timetable for upcoming submission

If you would like to discuss anything further, please get in touch with a member of our academies team who will be able to discuss any query you may have on 01772 821 021.

Our annual CSR results for 2019 are in!

We have had another fantastic year at MHA Moore & Smalley. After sending out the survey to over 4200 clients, we have received an overall satisfaction score of 96%, a 1% increase on last years, already great, result.

This score is based on clients’ answers in response to questions that rate us in terms of communication, technical ability, commitment to each individual business, and our CRM.

Thank you to everyone who got involved. Delivering outstanding client service is at the heart of everything we do. Therefore it is wonderful to know that we are delivering on our mission, vision and values, as we continue to improve and strive to be the best we can be.

Take a look at this year’s results below

Nicola Mason

Professional: Nicola is a senior manager in the audit department with particular responsibility for a large number of charitable and not-for-profit organisations, including a number of academy schools. She has advised on systems and procedures and financial reporting, as well as managing year end audits.