Charity status tough going for some academies

Compliance with charity governance is burdening some academies more than the local authority red tape they faced prior to conversion, the National Governors Association (NGA) claims.

The body says that greater transparency and financial accountability are proving toughest, along with worries over conflicts of interest.

Citing the high-profile collapse of charity Kids Company, the NGA is also concerned that problems with funding streams and overlong trustee tenure could soon hang over academies.

“Academy school status was sold on its freedoms,” said Emma Knights, NGA chief executive. “But what has taken trustees and leaders by surprise is financial accountability and the publishing of detailed accounts.

“So the transparency of the charity sector is a bit of a shock. They have also had to set up their own business systems – a lot didn’t have school business managers.

“Some will say they have coped well with such things, but there are a number of academies that will say privately that they didn’t realise how much was involved. There has been quite a lot of protest and moaning.”

Ms Knight is calling on academies to change mind-sets from established formulae to free-flowing governance that can deal with sudden changes in funding and accountability.

In the Education Funding Agency’s most recent letter to accounting officers, the need for awareness of their responsibilities was again underscored. It followed updated rules which included the need for increased openness about the people running academies.

At Milsted Langdon, we can reassure those who find their new responsibilities difficult that they are not alone or unusual. Sharing the experience with expert advisers is the first step towards a simpler life, allowing schools to get on with their primary purpose of teaching. For more details on how we can help, please contact us.

Posted in Academies.