Academies and education

We understand the issues facing clients in the education sector. Our specialist team is dedicated to advising academies, schools and education sector clients.

Members of our specialist team include partners and staff who are governors and charity trustees in their own right. Their personal experience and professional expertise working with academies and educational institutions will help guide you through the regulations without fuss.

How we can help

Private and public education

With many educational establishments facing similar financial issues, our clients benefit from our experience in advising others. For example, one major expenditure borne by educational institutions is that of wages, salaries and, increasingly, pensions: an effective framework of financial systems and controls is vital in each of these areas.

Audits

As registered auditors we act as both internal and external auditors for independent schools and academies under the guidelines set by the Secretary of State, Department for Education and Education Funding Agency.

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Academies

The introduction of academy status provides the school management team with the opportunity to take greater control over finances. This additional responsibility requires support from qualified professionals.

Our experience working with schools converting to academy status supports and informs those considering making the change. Insights include specialist advice on fundraising, payroll, internal and external auditVAT and the tax issues typically facing academies.

Our experts are also experienced in Free Schools and the Free School application process. Simon Webber, Partner, is a founding member of Chichester Free School and served as the finance Governor for four years, having been part of the project team that secured their funding agreement. Simon therefore has first-hand experience of the many challenges and obstacles that need to be overcome on the journey to opening a new school.

Helping throughout the academy conversion process

Currently applying

Uncertain about the regulations and the environment you are entering? Our team will be able to offer you personal and practical guidance.

Newly formed

Your new financial and governance obligations may prove unfamiliar to you. Whether it’s guiding people on their new responsibilities, advising on regulatory matters, or providing accounting, audit (both external and internal) and VAT advice, you can rely on our help to comply.

Well established

For good governance, you will be regularly reviewing your audit provision. Further change brings new challenges, and you may want advice to improve the effectiveness of your finance and back-office functions; potential or planned expansion; and developing or building properties.

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Having just completed our 1st audit under Kreston Reeves, we have been very impressed with their support, guidance and professionalism. It was always a concern moving away from our previous... More known auditors and what to expect but the whole transition has been seamless. Everyone within the team are approachable and available to unpick queries however small, feeding back in an easily understood way. A pleasurable experience if an audit can ever be that! Andy Fisher, School Business Manager, Sandwich Technology School

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The Stour Academy Trust became a Trust just over two and a half years ago. We chose Kreston Reeves to support us as accountants because they gave us confidence that... More they would guide us on our journey. The teams are always friendly, no question is too small and nothing is ever a problem. Of all the services that we now have to deal with we find they are the most approachable group of people. They are down to earth, have a sense of humour and thankfully do not use accountants jargon. However they always remain professional in their approach whether dealing with school staff, governors or directors. Kreston Reeves have helped us build in confidence and we find now that we need to contact them less. As a growing Trust, we have never looked back. Would we choose them again? Most definitely! Vikki Tottman, Director of HR, The Stour Academy Trust

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Kreston Reeves have been our auditors since February 2014 when they were Spofforths LLP. With our tender process we were looking for a local provincial firm that was partner-led, able... More to provide a full and concise audit service as well as offering us a quality payroll bureau. Kreston Reeves have delivered on this year after year. We have always found our audit partner, Mrs Sarah Ediss, and her team, very professional and knowledgeable of both UK accounting standards and the SORP. Crucially, they understand how a school works which is very important to a busy Bursar! I would have no hesitation in recommending Kreston Reeves to any independent school. Paul Flowerday, Bursar, Micklefield School

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As a small primary trust the conversion to academy status was a daunting prospect for us. We chose to work with Simon Webber and his team in Chichester because of... More their experience in the sector and because they were local enough to give a close and personalised level of service. Their detailed understanding of academy accounting and governance regulations allowed us to move forward with confidence that we were on a solid footing. The support they have given us during our conversion, throughout the year and beyond was superb and exactly what we needed. The professional and friendly approach from all their staff made me feel at ease during what was my first experience of an audit process. Nicky Schofield, School Business Manager, Oak Academy Trust

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The Island Learning Trust was formed in November 2016. During the first year of operation we had so many new processes and procedures to develop, embrace. Thankfully we engaged in... More careful research, best value and best service reviews before deciding on key service providers. Kreston Reeves came highly recommended by other trusts we had links with. The recommendations, the Kreston Reeves core offer and the friendly, personable approach of key personnel led to their appointment as our accountants: a decision that we have not regretted. In all exchanges, visits they are professional, approachable, down to earth and realistic! Providing outstanding customer service is clearly a key performance indicator and that is exactly what Phil Reynolds and his team have delivered for The Island Learning Trust! We have benefitted greatly from their skills, experience and common sense approach to customer service. I have no hesitation in recommending them to other Trusts and The Island Learning Trust will be remaining with Kreston Reeves as we continue our journey: they have met and exceeded our expectations! Debbie Wheeler, Chief Executive Officer, The Island Learning Trust

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We chose Kreston Reeves because of their proactive approach towards the significant risks, challenges and responsibilities we knew we would face as we established ourselves as an academy outside Local... More Authority control. The Kreston Reeves team has worked with us throughout our transition from LA maintained school to SAT and to MAT and we couldn’t be happier with the service and support we have received. Phil Reynolds and his specialist Academies and Education team have provided us with professional and knowledgeable advice that keeps us well informed on current issues, their help and support is timely, clear and invaluable in helping us to navigate the heavily regulated and increasingly complex education sector and based on our experiences, we would have no reservations in recommending Kreston Reeves to other colleagues. Julia Knight, Chief Financial Officer, CASTLE Trust

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Kreston Reeves have worked with our Academy Trust for the past 3 years. They are extremely professional and have a vast knowledge of the education sector. We have a... More very good working relationship with Kreston Reeves and they are always available for any queries that arise, be it in terms of financial information required or general Academy queries. We find Kreston Reeves to be very professional and would not hesitate in recommending them. They are able to provide any information required and in our opinion go above and beyond to ensure we are compliant with all ESFA regulations and legislation. Kreston Reeves take the time to understand the needs of our Trust and are always on hand to provide advice when needed. With the help of Kreston Reeves, we have been able to further develop our internal processes and systems to ensure our financial strategy is fully met. I would not hesitate in recommending Kreston Reeves and believe they have the professionalism and qualities needed to ensure any Academy or Academy Trust can progress. Tina Lovey, Chief Executive Officer, Rivermead Inclusive Trust

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In addition to well delivered and managed annual internal and external audits, Kreston Reeves is always readily available to assist on a wide variety of queries. Both our Audit Manager... More and Audit Partner are quick to respond to queries on a wide variety of subject areas, and provide regular and timely updates on changes in both the Education and Charities sectors. They also run frequent training sessions on a broad range of relevant issues. Their help on Governance and compliance in particular has been of great value in the transition to becoming a MAT. Zoe Lever, Chief Financial Officer, The LIFT Partnership

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When we decided to award the contract to Kreston Reeves in September 2015, it was because they seemed to offer the most supportive service for those new to academy status.... More This was confirmed in our first year when they offered advice, guidance and training for both leaders, directors and governors in the requirements for compliance with the Academy Financial Handbook. They ensure that we receive regular updates on any changes to regulations and processes. They are professional in their approach and have developed a strong working relationship with our trust. It’s very apparent that they give attention to detail and know and understand the challenges of our schools well. This means that we gain maximum benefit from their compliance work and the annual audit process is welcomed as part of our statutory processes as it also provides the opportunity to explore ideas with professionals who have a wide ranging experience of audit in the educational sector. I recommend them unreservedly. Hilary Sanders, CEO, Medway Anglican Schools Trust

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The Finance Committee and I have been delighted with the service received since appointing Kreston Reeves. At all levels the staff are pro-active, knowledgeable and efficient and have developed an... More excellent working relationship with relevant people in the School. Advice beyond the scope of the audit has been provided formally and informally and been to a high standard whilst fees have been transparent, with no surprises and great value for money. I am happy to recommend the firm and do so with absolute confidence. Stuart Ansell, Chief Operating Officer and Clerk to the Governors, Box Hill School

Academies Benchmark Report 2021

The Academies Benchmark Report 2021 is based on those Academies that prepared financial statements for the period ended 31 August 2020 and which were audited by member firms of Kreston UK.

Key highlights from the report include:

  • The percentage of trusts in cumulative deficit has fallen from 8% to 5% over the last year.
  • Nearly 60% of trusts submitted claims for additional funding for the 2019/20 academic year.
  • 67% of trusts with at least 8 schools had 1 or more schools in an individual deficit position. When compared, the percentage of trusts with 4 or fewer schools that had 1 or more schools in deficit was 29%.
  • The growth of MATs has occurred primarily in the most centralised trusts. As at December 2020, there were a total of 9,399 academies compared to 8,721 in December 2019. The annual rate of growth has however slowed, from 10.8% in the year to December 2019, down to 7.8% to December 2020.

To request your complimentary copy of the Report, click download in Related resources below.

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        Academies Benchmark Report 2021

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