Academy status was previously reserved for those schools lucky enough to find themselves a sponsor to support them through their journey. However, the landscape for academies was significantly changed on 27 July 2010 when the Academies Bill received Royal Assent. This Act enabled more schools to convert to academies so they can benefit from the freedoms and flexibilities associated with academies. This opens up new opportunities for schools to have more autonomy both over their curriculum and financial freedom. In addition, academies may receive additional support from personal or corporate sponsors, either financially or in kind.
With each week that passes, more and more schools are seizing the opportunity to convert to an academy and become a separate legal entity. This conversion brings a variety of opportunities and challenges that you may not have experienced. Mazars are here to help with every aspect of the conversion process and beyond.
For those already established academies, Mazars has the knowledge and experience to help with the challenges that you may face.
Working with the sector
How can we help
Helping academies is very important to Mazars and we are committed to helping in its continuous development and success. Our Education Sector Focus Group is evidence of our commitment to the sector. The Group meets on a regular basis and has representatives in all departments. It develops our strategy for serving the sector as well as meeting to share information, concerns, the regulators’ latest thinking and anything else that will help our specialists to provide the best service possible. If you wish, we can provide training to an institution’s finance team and to members of its Audit Committee to assist them in keeping up to date with sector developments. We provide periodic briefings on a variety of relevant areas.
We are able to provide all the services that you would expect of a major international partnership, including:
External Audit – We believe effective project management, timely communication, regular access to senior team members and continuity of staff are key to delivering an effective audit and achieving a high level of client satisfaction. We work hard to develop long-term relationships with our clients. This involves regular face-to-face meetings, listening carefully, acting as a sounding board, being proactive and offering robust opinions and advice.
Outsourcing – We appreciate that you may not have the high level knowledge or experience to deal with all elements of the finance function, particularly in the early stages of conversion. We can therefore offer a variety of outsourcing services including: assistance with the implementation of systems and controls; review of chart of accounts; providing the finance director role on a short or long term basis; ad-hoc advice and support on all finance issues; assistance with or preparation of management accounts and cash flow forecasts; and assistance with setting up Finance Policies.
Responsible Officer – We appreciate that the board of governors are already giving a significant amount of their time to the academy, and a governor also has to take on the role of the Responsible Officer. We can help ease the pressure by assisting the governor in completing this role.
Governance and Board Effectiveness – Getting the right governing arrangements in place and ensuring they are working effectively has never been more important. Governors have to set the right tone from the top in promoting significant change whilst remaining true to the mission of the academy and playing to its distinctive strengths. We can help with reviews of the overall governance of your academy; reviews of governing body effectiveness and by organising training and development workshops for governors. We can also help the governing body design an effective system of risk management.
Accounts preparation – We have experience in preparing statutory accounts for academies. We appreciate that this is quite an onerous task and we can assist you as little or as much as you require.
VAT advice – VAT is a particularly complex area, particularly with the change in legislation from 1 April 2011 whereby all academies have to administer input and output VAT. We have a specialist VAT team who have extensive knowledge of academies, they can assist you with the simple and the complex VAT challenges.
Tax – Our specialist tax team have worked with a number of academies and are able to provide advice on a variety of aspects including: tax planning by implementing subsidiaries; and general tax advice.
Payroll – We currently provide payroll services to a significant number of schools and academies. We therefore have the knowledge and experience to provide these services for you if you require.
Employment Tax Services – We can assist academies with regard to employment tax, issues such as employer compliance reviews by HMRC and the negotiation of any settlement, helping with the tax issues surrounding payments related to the termination of employment and all aspects of expense claims
Defined Benefit Pension Schemes – Mazars provides comprehensive actuarial advice through its in-house team. We appreciate that this is a challenging area and our teams are happy to provide support and training where necessary to assist the governors in their understanding of the implications of the scheme.
Teachers’ Pension – We have the knowledge and experience to carry out the annual audit of the teachers’ pension contributions.
We would welcome an opportunity to demonstrate that we do not merely make promises, but deliver them. Please feel free to contact any of the team for further information.