Named: The 61 academy trusts that broke financial rule

Exclusive: Full list of academy trusts that missed official deadline for filing latest financial statements, despite 'firmer stance' taken by DfE

Rule breaking

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.


Read: Revealed: Academies that filed financial returns late

Background: DfE to publish naughty list of academies that fail to file financial statements on time

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 Equivalent figures for 2018-19 will not be published until the autumn, after the deadlines for all the annual returns have passed.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
Buckinghamshire UTC.
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
Henbury School
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

 

 

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