Maintained schools are not obliged to publish accounts as such but are required to submit a return, via their local authority (LA), as part of the Consistent Financial Reporting (CFR) regulations introduced in April 2003. This information is used to populate our Schools’ Financial Benchmarking website and to pre-populate the Section 251 outturn statements. In January 2011, for the first time, the Department published all schools’ CFR 2009-10 data as part of the Coalition Government’s data transparency agenda.
All maintained schools are required to follow financial reporting procedures laid down by their LA in their scheme for financing schools (made under section 48 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998) and associated local documentation.
These will stipulate what information the school is obliged to supply to the LA about spending from its delegated budget and other funds received from the authority. It is for the school to decide how to comply with those requirements in terms of the internal systems needed to produce the data, whether to use particular software, whether to purchase accounting services from the LA and so on. All schools should have accounting systems that allow them to properly record and monitor expenditure throughout the year.
One of the main functions of LAs is monitoring the expenditure of maintained schools. As well as requiring regular reports the authority has the right, conferred by the section 48 scheme, to carry out audits of school financial records. Such audits may range from cyclical reviews of system adequacy to complete audits of payments and expenditure. Schools are free to commission and pay for supplementary audits, if they wish.
Further information on school accounts can be found in:
The current financial accountability requirements for academies can be found in the Academies Financial Handbook.
A document on basic financial management, control and reporting requirements for academy trusts.