More than 60 academy trusts missed an official deadline to file their latest financial statements, figures obtained by Tes reveal.
This comes more than two years after the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) announced it was taking a "firmer stance" on academy trusts that submit their financial information late.
Headteachers say the number of trusts filing late reflects the "burdensome" and "increasingly onerous" nature of oversight that academies are subjected to.
Maintained schools: DfE wants tougher scrutiny of LA school finances
A Freedom of Information response from the DfE reveals that 61 academy trusts missed the 31 December 2019 deadline to submit their financial statements for the 2018-19 academic year.
According to the DfE's website: "Submitting financial returns on time is an essential requirement of the Academies Financial Handbook."
It adds: "Compliance with the financial accountability and assurance framework allows ESFA to oversee the financial health of the sector and provide assurance to Parliament and the public about how public money is spent."
The ESFA announced just over two years ago that it would be taking a "firmer stance on non-compliance" with these rules.
As part of this, it said it would publish the names of any academy trust that missed the deadline for two or more of the five sets of annual returns they have to submit, including their financial statements.
Forty-three academies fell into this category last year. Equivalent figures for 2018-19 will not be published until the autumn, after the deadlines for all the annual returns have passed.
But the FOI data obtained by Tes today shows that many trusts are continuing to file information late despite the threat of naming and shaming.
Julia Harnden, funding specialist at the ASCL headteachers' union, suggested this was down to the high level of "bureaucractic oversight" facing academies.
She said: "In an ideal world filing deadlines would not be missed, but sometimes the scale of the process is just too burdensome and it happens. When it does happen, we don’t think that naming and shaming is helpful.
"The vast majority of schools, both academy and maintained, are extremely well run and observe high standards of financial probity. ASCL continues to be concerned about the increasingly onerous level of bureaucratic oversight to which academy schools are subjected."
Maintained schools do not currently have to follow the same financial reporting rules as academies. However, the Department for Education last year consulted on plans to end “the disparity between transparency of financial reporting in local authority schools and academies”.
But Ms Harden said this was unhelpful and unnecessary.
She said: "It is difficult to see how additional regulatory burden is not going to result in already scarce resources being diverted away from the classroom, either directly at school level or indirectly at LA level.
"Maintained schools are already subject to local authority controls and monitoring and we think that these should normally be regarded as sufficient unless there is clear evidence to the contrary."
A DfE spokesperson said: "Monitoring the timely submission of financial returns is just one example of how we monitor and scrutinise academies to ensure good financial management and governance.
“It’s encouraging that the overwhelming majority reported on time, and we are taking action in the small number of cases where we find that this has not happened.”
The department said it was currently reviewing the responses from its consultation on financial reporting in maintained schools, which closed last September.
The 61 academy trusts that missed the 31 December 2019 deadline for filing their 2018-19 financial statements:
|Queen Elizabeth Grammar School Penrith|
|Old Earth School|
|Paxton Academy Ltd|
|Hadlow Rural Community School Limited|
|The Rural Enterprise Academy|
|Lighthouse Harmonize Education Trust|
|Cambridgeshire Educational Trust|
|University of Chester Academies Trust|
|Teesside Learning Trust|
|The Premier Academy Limited|
|Mount Grace School|
|St Mary's Catholic Primary School, Churchdown|
|Hope Valley College|
|Kenilworth Multi Academy Trust|
|Buckden Church of England Primary Academy|
|Whitburn Church of England Academy|
|Floreat Education Academies Trust|
|Townfield Primary School|
|Yorkshire and Humberside Co-operative Academies Trust|
|Beechen Cliff School|
|The Hermitage Academy Trust|
|The Family of Learning Trust|
|Be the Change Multi Academy Trust|
|Cirrus Primary Academy Trust|
|St Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Academies Trust|
|Bright Tribe Trust|
|Lionheart Academies Trust|
|Chapel Street Community Schools Trust|
|Medway UTC Ltd|
|Meadowhead School Academy Trust|
|Plymouth School of Creative Arts|
|New Generation Schools Trust|
|Salford Academy Trust|
|The Wey Valley School|
|Broughton Jewish Cassel Fox|
|Taverham High School|
|Southfield Primary School|
|All Saints Multi Academy Trust, Birmingham|
|Inspire Multi Academy Trust|
|Derby Manufacturing UTC|
|Steiner Academy Bristol|
|The SchoolsCompany Trust|
|CUL Academy Trust Limited|
|Wansdyke School (2013) Ltd|
|The Delta Education Trust|
|The Eveleigh LINK Academy Trust|
|Adventure Learning Academy Trust|
|IQRA Academy Education Trust|
|Willowcroft Academy Trust|
|Wearmouth Learning Trust|
|The Royal School, Wolverhampton|
|Countesthorpe Leysland Community College|
|Cromwell Learning Community Academy Trust|
|Genesis Education Trust|
|Lakes Academies Trust|
|Learning Link Multi Academy Trust|
|St Teresa of Calcutta Catholic Academy Trust|
|Galileo Multi Academy Trust|
|St Margaret Clitherow Catholic Academy Trust|