We all need a proper audit

11th April 2003 at 01:00
After a pilot which ministers recognise was successful, the plan to introduce compulsory audits of school systems was shelved so as not to increase the bureaucratic burden on schools. But the decision fails to give sufficient weight to the advantages.

Here are three advantages of professional auditing: first, it identifies areas of risk in a school's systems; second, possibly as a by-product, it can provide pointers to get better value for money; finally, it gives school managers and governors confidence in their bursars.

Moreover, strangling the proposals for consistent financial reporting (CFR) will do little to show accountability to the public for billions spent in schools and may make it hard for schools to compare financial management with their peers.

CFR should be kept alive and allowed to grow alongside sound financial management and audit.

The training of more bursars and the development of a toolkit for school financial management should be welcomed. Education authorities need to see that a properly focused audit can squeeze extra value out of limited resources. I believe the history of audits in grant-maintained schools shows that they are worth the fees paid to auditors.

John G Chastney

Mazars, 24 Bevis Marks

London EC3

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