To ensure you are meeting the statutory requirements for school website annual accounts information, your school's funding arrangements and the ages of the students at your school will determine which school website requirements you should be following.
The first big thing to note is that displaying the annual accounts information on your school website is only specific to you if you are an academy. Maintained schools are not required to fulfil this requirement.
Your school is almost certain to be producing annual account information already. It is, after all, a key requirement to meet as a Trust running an academy. You must 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.
Publishing School Annual Accounts Information
Some of the required information for school website annual accounts needs to be updated annually, the rest is more static documents.
Annual Accounts Information on your School Website
The accounts information requirements state your website must include two annually updated documents:
- Annual report (which should include your financial statements)
- Annual audited accounts
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 its financial position at the end of the year.
- a trustees’ report – signed by a trustee (usually the chair)
- a governance statement – signed by both a trustee (usually the chair) and the accounting officer, including a review of value for money
- a statement on regularity, propriety and compliance – signed by the accounting officer
- a statement of trustees’ responsibilities – signed by a trustee (usually the chair)
- an independent auditor’s report on the financial statements – signed by the auditor
- an independent reporting accountant’s assurance report on regularity – signed by a reporting accountant, who must be the same person as the external auditor of the financial statements
- a statement of financial activities (SOFA)
- a balance sheet – signed by a trustee (usually the chair)
- a statement of cash flows
- notes which expand on the financial statements
For more guidance see the government guidance on academy accounts direction.
Other Accounts Information on your School Website
- Memorandum and Articles of association
Usually based on the model documents provided for companies, and also specifically for different types of Trusts. For the most part, these items are included in the same document. This document is approved by DfE before the Trust is set up.
- Names of Charity Trustees and members
The documents of association will include this information. But rather than being buried within a 'boring' compliance document consider including a 'people' page on your website. This section could even include a brief bio about each of the trustees and members of the Trust.
- Funding agreement
The more static documents will only need to be changed 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.
School Annual Accounts Information Timeline
There is a clear timeline for publishing the school website annual accounts information. 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 2020. 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.
- August 31st - Prepare accounts (Or alternative accounting period end for non-conforming Trusts).
- Before December 31st - Arrange for accounts to be audited and returned.
- December 31st - Submit audited accounts to ESFA [Education & Skills Funding Agency] (Or 4 months after accounting period end for non-conforming Trusts).
- January 31st - Publish accounts on the Multi-Academy Trust website.
- May 31st - Report and file accounts with Companies House.
Annual accounts information on your school website or your trust website?
The school website requirements page for academies and free schools advises that school website 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.
Shared document groups allow you to manage documents centrally, but can display them on multiple websites. This feature is available to all Schudio Multi-academy Trust clients. 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).
Examples of Annual Accounts Information on School Websites
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!