Built hundreds of website and helped countless schools realise their potential online. Ian should be called upon for straight-talking advice and to make a difference to the way you present your school through every outlet.
When ensuring your website meets the statutory requirements for school annual accounts information, your school's funding arrangements and the ages of the students at your school will determine which requirements should be followed. A number of the school website requirements are specifically for academies.
The big thing to note first of all - we're looking at an academy specific requirement; displaying the annual account information on your school website. This is not a requirement for maintained schools.
What needs to be published?
When and where should it be published?
Who should publish the information?
The academy, or the Multi-academy Trust?
Your school is almost certain to be producing annual account information already. It is, after all, a key requirement to meet as part of the Trust running an academy to provide the accounts information and meet the regulations outlined in the Academies Financial Handbook. But these specific requirements focus on what should be published on the website.
Ultimately, the Trust has to demonstrate that they are meeting their duty to run the schools they have been entrusted with. To demonstrate they are accountable for the way in which they have spent their money. The aim is so that the government can then be confident the Trust is delivering value for money.
Some of the school annual accounts information on your website is made up of information to be updated annually, the rest is more static documents.
The accounts information requirements require your website to include two annually updated documents:
The annual audited accounts sit alongside the annual report to provide some context and explanation. A number of statutory elements make up this report, and should also include your financial statements. The purpose of the report is to explain the financial performance of the Trust, and it's financial position at the end of the year.
For more guidance see the government guidance on academy accounts direction.
Changes to the more static documents will only happen if there's a fairly drastic change to the Multi-academy Trust. For the most part, only changes to trustees or members will cause any of these documents to require an update. The majority of changes to ensure continued compliance will be publishing annual accounts information on your school website.
The annual accounts information has a clear timeline for publishing. The school annual accounts information includes the annual report and financial statements. This annual accounts publishing timeline starts at the year-end and runs until 31st May 2019. The DfE requires all academies and Trusts to have a year-end of 31st August. And as a result, almost all Trusts will be in this position.
The school website requirements page for academies and free schools advises that school annual accounts information should be published on your school website. However, the academies financial handbooks and further guidance all advise that the audited annual accounts must be published on the Trust website.
So what should you do?
We'd recommend publishing documents in both locations, both on the school and Trust websites. However, this can be tricky.
Keeping multiple websites and multiple versions of documents up to date increases the chance of an error, or leaving an old document on one of the websites.
We have built a feature, that is available to all Multi-academy Trust clients, that manages the documents centrally but can display them on multiple websites. This helps bring down the management overhead and ensures the most up to date documents are in place across the entire online estate of the Trust.
It works with more than just your school annual accounts information too, any central policies can be included within the shared document groups feature. (Get in touch about our shared document groups feature for how this can help your school).
Parallel Learning Trust - a great example of comprehensive information, clearly laid out and very easy to find and read.
Active Learning Trust - very simple, clear and up to date information. Also, super easy to find on the website!
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