Our financial health

We have developed, introduced and embedded effective financial planning and management processes, systems and procedures. We have placed our students at the heart of our curriculum planning whilst ensuring all of the requirements set out by the Department for Education (DfE) and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) are met and maximum value for money is achieved.

The core drivers of our financial planning and management

Curriculum – aligning our resources to enable outstanding education for all of our children and young people.

Resilience – to ensure we are able to respond to external challenges an internal changes.

Value for money – to ensure we operate efficiently whilst maximising our academic return on investment, ensuring we consider the specific needs of our students and communities.

Capacity and skill – developing and sustaining knowledge and skills throughout governance, leadership and our finance team, to professionally challenge and support our academies.

Financial processes and systems – financial benchmarking and integrated curriculum and financial planning (ICFP) are key drivers to our financial planning and performance. Promoting compliance with best practice, and meeting Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) requirements and the Trust’s financial policies.

Financial stability

The Trust’s financial position has strengthen over the last three years (2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21), out turning a surplus on consecutive years. The accuracy and strength of our financial planning and budget setting has delivered a level of reserves which allows us to invest in our students’ needs as our priorities change.

The level of our reserves and the management of our cash position ensures we are able to invest in our strategic objectives, ensuring our golden thread of school improvement remains at the heart of our financial planning.

Governance oversight

We have a strong financial governance oversight, with clearly defined responsibilities through our scheme of delegation and which are supported by well-developed technical knowledge. This allows all of our Trustees and governors to play a vital role in providing effective challenge and support.

Management accounts, cash flow and balance sheets are provided to Trustees on a monthly basis, and our clear, unambiguous reporting is supported by an appropriate narrative and accompanying information which identifies risks and linked actions. Our governance structures through the Trust board and sub committees also provide a comprehensive and effective review of our financial performance.

Our audit findings do not indicate any areas of significant weakness in our accounting practices and any minor recommendations are reviewed and responded to in a timely manner.

Curriculum planning and financial benchmarking

Integrated curriculum financial planning and financial benchmarking are instrumental in challenging the use of our resources and the academic return on investment. All of our academies are broadly in line within acceptable parameters and any variation to this is clearly understood with a strong rationale.

We have a robust procurement practice and strong purchasing and payment practices, which realise the significant benefits of being part of a Trust.

Financial knowledge and skills

Our finance team, which is led by our Chief Financial Officer (CFO), is strong and well-developed. Our CFO provides a pivotal role in ensuring the financial future of our organisation is maintained and strengthened. Our finance team are appropriately qualified and skilled professionals, and have a strong commitment to continuing professional development supported by our Diverse Association for Professional Learning – which combines technical and leadership development, building on our value of empowerment through coaching.