The Department for Education has published an updated version of the Academies Financial Handbook.
Designed to help bolster the financial management and governance of academy schools, the key change is a new requirement that academy trusts must show how they have checked that their internal systems are effective and compliant through an independently-prepared annual report submitted to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).
The handbook also includes boosted material on:
· The role governing bodies should play to make sure the pay and other benefits of senior staff are reasonable and reflect their responsibilities;
· The need for trusts to maintain a risk register to ensure procedures and systems are adequately scrutinised;
· The importance of having an agreed whistle-blowing procedure and a structure that protects and supports staff so they can report concerns in confidence;
· The role of trustees, emphasising the importance of robust governance; and
· The Secretary of State’s powers to act to tackle rare cases of mismanagement – including removing trustees from a trust.
Schools Minister, Lord Agnew, said:
‘’Academies are raising standards in our schools by placing freedom in the hands of school leaders. In the majority of cases, standards have risen more quickly in sponsored academies than similar council-run schools.
But we must build on that, and it is important that we hold academy trusts to account to ensure that all academies offer the best education possible and spend public money reasonably.
To do that, trusts must have strong financial management and governance structures – and this handbook will help trusts to deliver it’’.
To find out more about the updated handbook, visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/strengthened-guidance-on-academy-trust-finances