Category Archives: Academies News

Eight out of 10 academies are ‘running a deficit,’ study finds

New research has shown that eight out of 10 academy schools are running a deficit.

The authors of the report suggested that some schools have just “two years” until they face the prospect of insolvency.

In total, 55 per cent of academies were deemed ‘in deficit’ before the effect of depreciation of assets, such as buildings, equipment and furniture, was taken into account.

This rose to 80 per cent when the accounts were adjusted to include depreciation, the report shows.

The document further found that staff make up 72 per cent of costs in these academies, as teachers continue to right for ‘real’ wage rises.

The figures were taken from genuine audited accounts of academy schools and represent a realistic cross-section of the academy school sector.

The report warns that schools are cutting back in many departments, such as by not upgrading outdated technology.

“The whole sector will be on the verge of insolvency if they have just two more years like this one,” said the authors.

“Accountants can work with governors to help them save every last penny possible, but without significant increases in public funding, this could become a full-blown crisis,” he added.

At The Fish Partnership, we can help schools and academies to ensure that they are tax-efficient and financially fighting fit. To find out more about our sector-specific services, please contact us.

DfE unveils new scheme to ‘get teachers back in the classroom’

The Department for Education (DfE) has announced a new scheme aiming to get teachers back into the classroom.

The programme is currently being piloted across regions in the South East of England and the West Midlands.

The Government plans to get teachers who have taken a career break back into the system by supporting professional development, such as providing funding for National Professional Qualifications.

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb, said: “There are a record number of teachers in our classrooms – 15,500 more than in 2010 – but we want to build on that. Many of us will need to take time out from our careers at some point, and teaching is no different – but it can be hard to return to the classroom.

“We want to support teachers by giving them more options on how to return to the workplace. As well as helping to keep experienced and valued teachers working in our schools, this pilot will help make sure teaching remains attractive to the next generation and is regarded as a profession that is flexible to the demands of the modern world.”

The DfE said the re-recruitment of teachers will begin during the summer term.

The announcement follows a number of changes designed to ease the teacher recruitment crisis. Among these, the Government plans to strengthen Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and improve career progression.

It will also look at how the profession can be made more flexible, possibly through part-time roles.

At The Fish Partnership, we understand the day-to-day challenges schools and academies face. We can help your academy with a wide variety of tax and financial matters. To find out more, please contact us.

Academy sector suffers from significant gender pay gap, figures reveal

The spotlight has been shone on academy school bosses after recent figures revealed that primary multi-academy trusts (MATs) have the largest gender pay gap.

In April 2017, all organisations with 250 or more employees were given one year to publish their gender pay gap statistics.

According to industry publication Schools Week, women’s pay is lower across all MATs which have so far published figures. The data cited also shows that around two in five trusts pay male staff at least 25 per cent more than their female counterparts.

However, academies said the results are skewed by the “structure of the workforce” as a large proportion of women in primary schools work in lower-paid jobs.

Under reporting rules, academies must publish their median and mean gender pay gap, as well as the proportion of men and women in each quartile of the pay structure. The figures must also include bonuses.

Last year, the former Education secretary, Justine Greening, said the scheme will help women “reach their full potential”.

“I am proud that the UK is championing gender equality and now those employers that are leading the way will clearly stand out with these requirements,” she said.

According to figures published in 2015, women teachers are paid £37,100 on average, as opposed to £39,900 for men.

To find out more about the specialist tax and accountancy services The Fish Partnership can provide to schools and academies, speak to our team today!

Investigation reveals academies are failing to meet new legal duties

A number of multi-academy trusts (MATs) are not meeting new legal duties set out in January, according to a Schools Week investigation.

The industry publication found that just two out of 10 of the largest MATs are fully compliant with the “Baker clause,” which came into effect on 2 January 2018.

Under this legislation, all local authority-maintained schools and academies must give further education (FE) providers access to every pupil in years eight to 13 to explore approved technical qualifications and apprenticeships.

The law, proposed by Lord Kenneth Baker last year, also requires schools and academies to publish a policy statement outlining how providers can access them, as well as the rules for granting and refusing access.

In February last year, Lord Baker said the law was likely to be “met with great hostility in every school in the country”.

“I am going to write to [the academies minister] about it. It’s really a matter for the Government to chase them up,” he told Schools Week.

“We know that many schools will try to resist this, but it’s very important that it should be implemented more rigorously.”

In its investigation, Schools Week found that eight of the 10 major MATs it studied had failed to publish all information pertaining to its access policy and grants and refusal process.

Robert Halfon, chair of the parliamentary education committee, said: “I shall be writing to the minister to establish what efforts the Department for Education have made to ensure academies publish these policy statements, and what actions they intend to undertake to ensure academies up their game and comply with the law.”

At The Fish Partnership, we understand the day-to-day challenges schools and academies face. We can advise on the academy conversion process, and our expert team can also help you to assess your finances and achieve your financial targets. To find out more about our services for academies, please contact us.

DfE unveils new fund for successful academy trusts

The Department for Education (DfE) has announced a new £45 million fund for successful multi-academy trusts (MATs) to help “tackle underperformance and improve schools in areas that lack capacity”.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said the package of measures is aimed particularly at disadvantaged areas across the country.

The headline Multi-Academy Trust Development and Improvement Fund (MDIF) will be shared between 400 MATs “with a proven record” in areas facing the greatest challenges in education.

It also includes 75 projects sharing £25 million to provide more support for schools in relation to literacy and numeracy skills, as well as the publication of the next six Opportunity Area plans.

These will look at schools in Bradford, Doncaster, Fenland and East Cambridgeshire, Hastings, Ipswich and Stoke-on-Trent, it was revealed.

Mr Hinds, said: “As Education Secretary, I want all children to get a truly world-class education that not only inspires them to make the most of their lives but also gives them the opportunity to fulfil their ambitions, no matter where they live.

“Standards are rising in schools across the country but there is more to do to make sure that every child benefits from the progress we’ve already made thanks to an incredibly talented generation of teachers.

“By supporting good and outstanding schools to help others improve, and focusing on disadvantaged areas where our young people need extra help, we can continue to make a difference to people’s everyday lives and build a Britain that’s fit for the future.”

At The Fish Partnership, we can help schools and academies to ensure that they are tax-efficient and financially fighting fit. To find out more about our sector-specific services, please contact us.

Urgent review to tackle teacher recruitment crisis

A number of teaching unions have called for an urgent review of teachers and school leaders’ pay to address the ongoing recruitment crisis.

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), the National Education Union (NEU), UCAC and Voice issued the statement today.

Together, the unions represent the majority of education staff in England and Wales.

In the joint statement, the unions call for a “significant pay increase” for teachers and school leaders and set out their views on the most pressing issues facing the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB).

It says a pay increase is required to make teaching competitive with other graduate professions, as well as ease the recruitment and retention crisis.

Among the demands, the unions have said that teaching staff should receive an annual cost of living increase in line with inflation.

Paul Whiteman, General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, (NAHT) said: “Teaching is a demanding and important profession and teachers’ pay should reflect this. At the moment, it doesn’t. The recruitment crisis continues unabated and the teacher supply pipeline is leaking at both ends.

“At present, the Government is failing to recruit enough new teachers, and doing nowhere near enough whilst too many experienced teachers leave prematurely. A pay rise for school staff is long overdue.”

Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), added: “Children’s education is at risk – insufficient recruitment and retention of high quality teachers is a very real problem.

“To begin to address this, it is essential that teacher workload is reduced and that the Government now commits to making a restorative pay rise, starting with a significant real terms increase in 2018, which is fully funded.

“Ministers are right when they say an education system is only as good as its teachers and leaders. The public is demanding Government values these hardworking professionals who can make such a positive impact on young people’s futures.”

The joint statement can be accessed here.

To find out more about the specialist tax and accountancy services The Fish Partnership can provide to schools and academies, speak to our team today!              

Schools now able to join trusts as ‘associate members’

Schools wary of handing over their independence can now join academy trusts as “associate members”, the National Schools Commissioner has said.

Sir David Carter said schools would retain the right to leave the trust if the arrangement is not fulfilling.

He made the announcement at a training event held by the Church of England towards the end of 2017.

According to industry publication Schools Week, associate membership will allow a school to “join a trust in a more flexible arrangement, accessing shared resources and leadership”, but the school will not “legally transfer into the trust”.

Mr Carter said the school would also have the right to leave the arrangement at any time.

“The arrangement could last for something like two years, on the basis that once the time is up school and trust leaders will know if it is the right thing for them and are likely to sign up,” he said.

“A partnership gets around some of the ideology problems, but it helps people improve.”

He added: “It is about allowing good schools, or small schools, to dip their toe into the water and see if it works for them on the basis that they will become academies in the future.”

Under the scheme, academy trusts would have the option of offering free membership or charging for its support services via the traditional “top-slice” method – where a fee is extracted for each pupil.

At The Fish Partnership, we can help schools and academies to ensure that they are tax-efficient and financially fighting fit. To find out more about our sector-specific services, please contact us.

Damien Hinds replaces Justine Greening as Education Secretary

Damien Hinds has replaced Justine Greening as Secretary of State for Education. But who is he and what are the experts saying about him?

Mr Hinds is an MP for East Hampshire and has previous experience working in the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility; a hot topic in the world of education.

In 2012, he published a report commenting on improving social mobility in schools, with a focus on “quality of teachers and teaching.”

Likewise, it highlighted the significance of levelling the playing field for out-of-school opportunities.

Mr Hinds was also a primary driver behind a proposal to lift the faith cap – which is currently preventing the Catholic Church from opening free schools – and is expected to continue this motion as secretary.

In 2018, The MP will be faced with tackling a growing teacher recruitment crisis and finding additional funding for schools.

Paul Whiteman, the leader of the National Association of Head Teachers, urged the new secretary to avoid “big ticket” announcements.

“Where budgets are at breaking point and recruitment is still a massive challenge, education does not need more upheaval,” he said.

“Children need stability and their teachers can only provide that if the backdrop of education policy provides continuity for the profession.”

At The Fish Partnership, we understand the day-to-day challenges schools and academies face. We can advise on the academy conversion process, and our expert team can also help you to assess your finances and achieve your financial targets. To find out more about the services we can offer to academies, please contact us.

Majority of UK schools likely to convert to academies in coming years, study finds

Around half of non-academy schools are likely to convert between now and 2022, a new report has revealed – suggesting that the Government’s plans to convert all schools may soon be realised.

The Academies Show, which published the survey, found that just a third of school leaders thought it was “not very likely” their school would convert by 2022.

Previously, the Department for Education (DfE) had said that all non-academy schools would need to convert by 2022. But later, it abandoned this approach after the number of schools converting fell out of pace with targets.

It then confirmed that schools rated “good” or “outstanding” could stay on under their local authority umbrella.

However, The Academies Show research has now found that a quarter of school leaders believe they are “very likely” to join or form a multi-academy trust (MAT) by 2022, while a further 38 per cent said converting by this time was “fairly likely”.

The report also found that just under two thirds (63 per cent) of schools to have recently converted had an overall positive experience.

In fact, just 12 per cent described the experience as negative.

Lucy McPhail, director of the Academies Show, said: “Our research has highlighted the key concerns that many maintained schools have with becoming an academy.”

The latest figures show that 71 per cent of state-funded secondary schools and a quarter (26 per cent) of primary schools have academy status.

A Department for Education (DfE) spokesperson, said: “As this survey shows, the majority of schools that have converted to become academies say it had a positive impact.

“By working in partnership with each other, schools can benefit from sharing staff, best practice and curriculum expertise. High-quality sponsors can also raise standards in underperforming schools, bringing fresh vision, strong leadership and clear accountability.”

At The Fish Partnership, we understand the day-to-day challenges schools and academies face. We can advise on the academy conversion process, and our expert team can also help you to assess your finances and achieve your financial targets. To find out more about the services we can offer to academies, please contact us.

The Autumn Budget: What does it mean for schools and academies?

On 22 November, the Chancellor Philip Hammond took to the podium to announce the future – for the next year at least – of education and schools.

However, it would be fair to say that the majority of his statements were overshadowed by surprising news that Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) would be abolished for first-time buyers.

Still, there is a lot to learn from this year’s Autumn Budget, and here are some of the things that schools and academies might have missed:

Maths

The Budget invests an additional £406 million into maths and technical education, helping students develop essential skills needed to succeed in the new economy.

”Knowledge of maths is key to the high-tech, cutting-edge jobs in our digital economy. But it is also useful in less glamorous roles. Such as frontline politics,” said the Chancellor.

Around £27 million will be used to expand the Teaching for Mastery maths programme in a further 3,000 schools. Schools and colleges will also be rewarded £600 for every pupil who decides to take Maths or Further Maths A Levels. Meanwhile, a further £40 million will be used to train maths teachers.

VAT

The Government will maintain the VAT threshold at its current level of £85,000 for two years from April 2018.

Computer science

The Government will “ensure” that every secondary school has a fully qualified computer science GCSE teacher. It will achieve this by committing £84 million to upskill 8,000 computer science teachers by the end of this Parliament.

The Government will also work with the sector to set up a new National Centre for Computing to produce training material and support schools, it added.

Teacher development premium

The Government will invest £42 million to pilot a development premium programme. “This will test the impact of a £1,000 budget for high-quality professional development for teachers working in areas that have fallen behind,” the Budget document reads.

It adds that this will support the Government’s ambition to address regional productivity disparities through reducing the regional skills gap.

If you have concerns about your school or academy’s finances or reporting obligations, The Fish Partnership is here to help. We can help to ensure that you are tax-efficient and financially fighting fit. To find out more about our sector-specific services, please contact us.