Sussex Schools urged to learn Academy Lessons

The need for academies in Sussex“ and those schools considering conversion - to adopt a rigorous approach to financial structures and governance has been underlined in a report from the University of Londons Institute of Education.

The research, commissioned for the Education Select Committee, highlights the need for academies to put in place and implement the highest standards of financial control and governance oversight. Robin Evans, Head of the Academies Sector at Sussex-based chartered accountants Carpenter Box, commented: 'What this latest report shows is that while the primary focus for academies will always be on raising educational standards, the underpinning financial and management processes must be robust and transparent. It is particularly important that schools looking at possible conversion identify and implement the correct structures early in the process, after all they will be responsible for significant sums of public money.

With the number of Academies in West Sussex rising to the current figure of 43 (up from 26 at the start of 2013), Carpenter Box believes that many Primary and Secondary schools will have already considered converting. Academies benefit from certain freedoms, including:
Freedom from LEA control and routine school inspections
Greater control over budgets
Freedom to set teachers pay and contracts
Greater flexibility in the curriculum
Greater flexibility in relation to term times and length of the school day

Says Robin Evans: With this flexibility comes additional financial responsibility covering, for example, accounting systems, funding agreements, pension schemes, statutory accounts, audit requirements, VAT, payroll and general trading relationships with suppliers. With the direction of travel generally towards Academies, the message for governors considering this route is clear putting the right structures in place during the planning process will enable the school to focus more successfully on its educational objectives.
Schools receive 25,000 towards conversion costs from the Department for Education and can top-up their budget by as much as 10% through funding previously allocated to local authorities. Schools wishing to receive regular information about Academy conversion can subscribe to the Carpenter Box Academy Advisor newsletter by contacting .

Media enquiries to: Colin Bridgman, Harvest PR Tel: 023 9244 9655 / 07798 735648

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