2020 Autumn Term 1

The know zone

  • Time for re-assessment
    The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed many inequalities within the education system, further underlining the need for real change when it comes to primary evaluation, says Primary Specialist Tiffnie Harris. More
  • Parent planning
    Pay and Conditions Specialist Louise Hatswell explains maternity leave and other entitlements for parents-to-be working in the education sector. More
  • Contextualised offers
    Should more universities be giving disadvantaged students a lower offer? Kevin Gilmartin examines the inconsistent and complicated world of contextualised offers. More
  • Project restart
    Business Leadership Specialist Hayley Dunn highlights some of the key changes to reporting for academies and trusts, including resumption of data collections and greater transparency on executive pay. More
  • Words of wisdom
    We asked members to share a top tip for someone starting a new headship role this September and share a book recommendation that may help anyone new to the role. Here's what you said... More
  • A vote of confidence
    Assistant Head Rich Atterton says being on ASCL Council has enabled him to experience first-hand the Association's ability to shape and influence national education policy and debate. Here he shares his love for Council, teaching, escape rooms and... ballot paper. More
  • #TGIF
    The lack of discipline, general sense of ennui, the dreadful weather... and the fact that the weekend still seems an age away. Tell me why I don't like Thursday, asks Carl Smith. More
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Business Leadership Specialist Hayley Dunn highlights some of the key changes to reporting for academies and trusts, including resumption of data collections and greater transparency on executive pay.

Project restart

In April 2020, the Department for Education and its agencies cancelled or paused until June 2020 some essential data collections, services and requests. These were reviewed in June and the FE College Contact Details, Successful Applications to the Register of Apprenticeship Training providers and the Autumn Sufficiency Exercise were all added to the list of suspensions.

The Budget Forecast Return 3 Year and the Autumn School Census are two of the programmes set to return this term. While many others will continue, some will be paused until 30 September and some decisions will be deferred until later in the year, including those concerning the Land and Buildings Collection Tool and Schools Resource Management Self-Assessment Tool.

The full list of data collections and services is available here https://tinyurl.com/y4ldua9p

In June, the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) published the Academies Financial Handbook 2020 (www.gov.uk/guidance/academies-financialhandbook), overseen for the first time by Baroness Berridge, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System.

Academy trusts must comply with the handbook as a condition of their funding agreement. This key document provides the government’s overarching framework for financial management and control in academies. The changes are detailed in the document on page nine and, as you will see, there is strengthening of the language concerning some of the previous expectations.

It is now explicit that members must not be employees or occupy unpaid staff roles, and academies will need to consider here if changes are required to the articles of association.

Accountancy qualifications

There is a focus on the importance of the accounting officer and chief finance officer (CFO) roles; the ESFA is very keen that these roles are fulfilled by employees. There is encouragement for larger trusts (more than 3,000 pupils) to consider accountancy qualifications for their CFO and for all CFOs to maintain professional development.

A change to the rules governing executive pay has been brought in to improve transparency: salaries of employees whose cumulative benefits are more than £100,000 (including gross salary, other taxable benefits and, where applicable, termination payments) must be published in £10,000 bands.

Audit and scrutiny continue to be prominent. A key change came from the Financial Reporting Council’s revised ethical standard for auditors, this time with the removal of the option for internal audit to be performed by the external auditor.

There is confirmation that trusts can use individuals or organisations to support internal scrutiny with specialist non-financial knowledge.

The ESFA published the Academies Accounts Direction (AAD) 2019 to 2020 (www.gov.uk/guidance/academiesaccounts-direction), the guidance that is used to prepare and audit the academy annual report and financial statements. Compliance with it is a condition of academy funding agreements. The document is reviewed annually, and the changes are detailed on pages four to five.

The ESFA also published a supplementary bulletin to the accounts direction to cover reporting of Covid-19 activities (see link in previous paragraph). The bulletin has equal status as the AAD and contains additional requirements and guidance. The guide covers regularity and audit implications, trustees’ report content and requirements for disclosure of financial support received, including an example financial statement note.

Energy efficiency

There is a new requirement for qualifying trusts to publish information about their energy efficiency and consumption in their trustees’ report. The requirement has come down through company law and affects all large unquoted companies, not just trusts. To help, the ESFA has produced a good practice guide on streamlined energy and carbon reporting (https://tinyurl.com/y57ph85d).

The 2018 regulations require large unquoted companies – those that meet two or more of the large companies definition in the Companies (Amendment) Act 2019 – who have consumed more than 40,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy in the reporting period to include energy and carbon information within their directors’/trustees’ report from 1 April 2019 onwards.

Academy trusts will have to include the information for the first time in their 2019/20 accounts.

Hayley Dunn
ASCL Business Leadership Specialist