Survey Reveals 85% of Academies Feel Under Pressure
A survey conducted by Capita SIMS has revealed that 85% of academies questioned think that the increased financial freedoms of academy status will add pressure on them to spend money more wisely.
The figure provides an insight in to how academies are responding to greater financial freedoms after the Public Accounts Committee raised concerns over spending accountability in this sector.
The survey also revealed that the role of business managers and bursars in 76% of academies questioned had changed since conversion and over two-thirds said that there had been an increase in the level of financial management after separating from the local authority.
Paul Metcalfe, academy sector manager, at Capita SIMS, said: “Converting to an academy necessitates a number of adjustments, with one of the biggest changes being the increased level of financial management. The legal requirements of becoming an academy make the financial accounting for an academy much more complex than that of a maintained school and it seems that this is translating into the school business manager, in particular, feeling greater responsibility for the school’s financial performance.”
The purpose of the poll was to gain an insight into how academies are adjusting to the changes in financial management which occur after conversion.
The responses from academies also revealed that:
- Nearly 40% have brought in or plan to bring in more staff to help manage new financial responsibilities, and 20% have secured a qualified accountant to help manage finances.
- 50% say that in the next 1-2 years, it is most likely that their finance office’s existing staff will be up-skilled to deal with the new responsibilities, or they will buy-in the services of a qualified accountancy service from an external agency when required.
- 73% feel that the freedoms awarded to academies will improve school standards overall compared to only 46% of 256 non-academy schools that were questioned.
Mr Metcalfe said: “While the survey shows that dealing with greater financial responsibilities has been a challenge, the majority of academies believe that the freedoms awarded will improve school standards. It is clear that academies are having to adapt and need reliable policies and processes in place to manage their finances. Financial management software is crucial in helping academies budget and produce the financial reports that meet the requirements of the directors and external agencies.”
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