FINANCE & BUSINESS SUPPORT

Achieve and operate with excellence and efficiency

Introduction

At S4S, our specialist finance staff have many years of experience of working with Schools, Academies, Free Schools, Children’s Centres, Pupil Referral Units and Local Authorities and are all committed to providing you with the highest quality services and support.

Whilst we have a range of ready-made support packages available, we are happy to discuss your individual requirements and tailor our services to respond to the changing needs of your school.

You can be assured that our staff will conform to the latest legislation, meeting the standards expected by the DfE and the ESFA.

Strategic Financial Planning

We work closely with your leadership team to provide you with professional strategic advice, which supports you in making the right decisions and assists you in improving performance in your school.

Our Bursar Service provides an enhanced financial service, enabling schools to fulfil the management responsibilities of a delegated budget.

To ensure your compliance with the Academies Financial Handbook, Academy Trusts must have in place a process for checking their financial systems, controls, transactions and risks and have a programme of internal scrutiny. The ESFA state that there are approved solutions that Academies may use to assist them in meeting these responsibilities, one of these is a bought in internal audit service. S4S provide a bespoke service to ensure that relevant checks are undertaken at all levels and in line with the Trusts programme of internal scrutiny. The testing is to provide assurance to the MAT Board, of the internal financial controls. Our specialist team of finance, data, HR and Governance consultants can work collaboratively with your Trust to deliver a full programme of internal Scrutiny, ensuring all categories of risk are identified, reported and managed. In addition to the Termly reports, S4S will provide an annual summary report of the areas reviewed and key findings, recommendations and conclusion, which is now a requirement of the Trust to submit to the ESFA along with the annual accounts to the ESFA by 31 December.

Effective Resource Management

Varying levels of finance support designed to ensure you make the most of available resources. Whether you want telephone support on routine matters, timely advice on statutory reporting from our finance specialists, or onsite support with accounting, benchmarking and analysis, our service packages will relieve the burden of financial management and enable you to focus on teaching and learning.

We can also provide you with experienced staff when you face a temporary absence of your financial administrator and assist you in recruitment and selection processes for posts that have a responsibility for school finances.

Supporting your systems and processes

Monthly balancing of the schools’ finance system and the Local Authority’s accounting system.

•  Auditing of School Funds / unofficial funds

•  Assistance in reviewing the Schools Financial Value Standard self-assessment

•  Project consultancy and advice

 

Academy Finance and Business Support

The Academies Finance Service provides a range of support essential to the short-term and long-term success of both new and existing academies. Services include:

  • Finance Director (FD) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) interim support and cover
  • Mentoring and training newly appointed FD/CFO/AO
  • Preparation of monthly reporting for Trust/MAT in compliance with the Academies Financial Handbook
  • Budget planning and monitoring
  • Preparation and detailed review of Trusts financial procedures and policies
  • Finance support to individual academies within the Trust, to assist with the maintenance of accurate accounting records
  • Conversion support for new Academy Trusts and schools joining an existing MAT
  • Due Diligence support
  • Trust year-end consolidated audit pack and support with audit
  • Assistance with the preparation of statutory annual returns, BFRO, BFR, and Statutory Accounts
  • Internal audit (RO)
  • S4S offer a comprehensive training programme aimed at all members of school and academy staff and governors involved in school/Trust finance
  • Our Procurement assistance will help you meet efficiency targets and ensure that you are able to obtain goods and services that provide value for money. We provide you with essential advice on available contracts, consortia agreements, supplier sourcing and support with the tender process
  • Integrated Curriculum Financial Planning – working with our ICFP tool to assist your trust to develop or implement a consistent and effective approach to ICFP process
Academy Conversion Support

At Services 4 Schools we are committed to offering quality support at all stages of your conversion to academy status, providing a full and comprehensive turn-key solution including working with your legal partners.

Our aim is to:

• Provide a lead point of contact and regular updates through our unique communication tool
• To provide you with the highest quality professional support prior to, during and following conversion to academy status, which is specific to the school joining your trust
• To maintain a strong knowledge base in order to support you in compliance with legal and statutory requirements

New converter additional support

We are able to offer consultancy support, in addition to the conversion support to academies/MAT’s who may require additional support especially during the first year of conversion or for those who wish to source more support in achieving the standards outlined in the Academies Financial Handbook.

Bespoke Academy Training
We are able to offer bespoke training for your MAT, and can include: • Finance system training • Training to key finance staff and Trustees on the additional financial responsibilities associated with Academy status
Multi Academy Trust Growth Support
Services 4 Schools provide a full bespoke service to assist with the growth and development of your Multi Academy Trust, at the various stages of your MAT. This includes providing strategic advice to ensure the sustainability of your Trust as you grow and to assist with your growth development plan. For potential new schools joining your trust, the support can include due diligence and support/mentoring for them during this process. During the process of growth within your Trust, Services 4 Schools fully understand the need and requirements of the different levels of support as you grow, ensuring your Trust has access to the appropriate level of service at all times. Our qualified staff have a vast amount of specialist knowledge, skills and experiences to provide additional capacity to your team as your grow, providing the interim support at all levels, from operational school level to CFO support.
Finance Director (FD)/Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Support
We are able to work with your Trusts FD/CFO to provide strategic level financial advice and long term planning to ensure sustainability of the trust. • Mentoring and training newly appointed FD/CFO • Support with liaising with the ESFA and other external bodies • Advice and support with ESFA reports, queries and reviews • Interim FD/CFO support to cover staff sickness/vacancy
Termly Internal Assurance (RO) - Internal Scrutiny
To ensure your compliance with the Academies Financial Handbook, Academy Trusts must have in place a process for checking their financial systems, controls, transactions and risks and have a programme of internal scrutiny. The ESFA state that there are approved solutions that Academies may use to assist them in meeting these responsibilities, one of these is a bought in internal audit service. S4S provide a bespoke service to ensure that relevant checks are undertaken at all levels and in line with the Trusts programme of internal scrutiny. The testing is to provide assurance to the MAT Board, of the internal financial controls. Our specialist team of finance, data, HR and Governance consultants can work collaboratively with your Trust to deliver a full programme of internal Scrutiny, ensuring all categories of risk are identified, reported and managed. In addition to the Termly reports, S4S will provide an annual summary report of the areas reviewed and key findings, recommendations and conclusion, which is now a requirement of the Trust to submit to the ESFA along with the annual accounts by 31 December.
Dedicated Helpdesk
Off-site support for schools/academies where a dedicated telephone contact number will be available between 8.30am – 4.30pm each day (4.00pm on Fridays) All queries will be initially logged and passed to a dedicated Academy Finance Representative who will make an assessment of the query and respond. Any complex queries, which require additional research, will be responded to within 48 hours.
Strategic Financial Consultancy
This service is suitable for Academy Principals, MAT directors and other senior staff within the Academy, who wish to access support to assist them in their responsibilities for budget planning and monitoring the academies finances, for both the current and future academic years (projections are available for up to five academic years). This includes effective alignment, and affordability costing of the latest Academy Development Plan objectives and priorities. This service will ensure your Trust reporting is compliant with the Academies Financial Handbook. This service includes both onsite and offsite support with the following tasks: • Preparation of monthly management accounts • Production of monthly cash flow forecasts • Production of monthly budget monitoring reports • Support with production of reports to Trustees including KPI’s • Strategic 3-5 year budget forecasts • Production of consolidated Trust reports and attendance of meetings • Advice on the termly CENSUS returns to maximize funding • Advice and guidance to Principals and Governors on the impact of new legislation • Support with the Trust year end and assistance with interpretation of financial reports
Central Trust System Support
S4S are able to provide finance support at Trust level to assist with the maintenance of accurate accounting records. The service includes: • Setting up of Trust accounting package • Interim support to assist with staff sickness/absence • Support with the processing of financial records at Trust level • ESFA remittance recording and allocations to individual academy • Trust budget preparation and monitoring
Procurement Support
S4S can provide your Trust with procurement support, which includes: • Single point of contract for all procurement/contract related matters • Annual procurement health check visit, benchmarking and highlighting areas of spend where savings might be made • Procurement advice in accordance with Public Contract regulations, Academies Financial Handbook (DFE), the Academy Trust Scheme of Delegation, local financial procedures and all Trust finance and contracts procedures rules. No additional charges will be made unless otherwise agreed for complex work
ESFA and Statutory Financial Returns
Support with the preparation of the academy ESFA and statutory returns: • Budget Forecast Return Outturn • Budget Forecast Return • School Resource Management Self-Assessment Tool (SRMSAT) • Assistance with the preparation of the year end statutory accounts • Support with the preparation of the Annual Accounts return • Teachers’ Pension EOYC and audit • Academy Rates relief claim • Risk Protection Arrangement (RPA) registration • Capital project reporting • Land and building collection tool
Support with the Preparation/Review of Trusts Financial Procedures and Policies
S4S are able to support the Academy trust to assist with the set up and maintenance of the financial procedures and policies. This service can include: • Advice & production of financial procedures and scheme of delegations • Guidance and implementation of Trust policies • A detailed review of existing or draft financial procedures, providing recommendations • Advice to ensure the Trust is Statutory compliant • Review of the website and advice of the requirements to be uploaded on the Trust and academies sites
Assistance with the Academy Year End
• Production of the audit file in a format as agreed with the external auditors for the Trust • Advice on the implications of the Accounts Direction • Within our dedicated helpdesk support we are able to offer a helpline service for year-end queries • Attendance at a year-end meeting with the accountants/auditors • Support with the completion of the year end adjustment spreadsheet • Support with reconciliation and provision of information and reports to include; payroll, VAT, fixed asset additions, budget variances, pre-payments and accruals • Review of draft audit adjustments • Support with the financial system as detailed above
Academy Finance Office Support
S4S are able to provide finance support to individual academies within a Trust, to assist with the maintenance of accurate accounting records. The service includes: • Monthly bank reconciliation service between the Academy’s cash book and bank statement • Monthly balance sheet reconciliations • Open and closure of monthly periods • Posting of Grant income onto the system • Posting of monthly salary journals • Completion of academy vat returns • System support with the provision of information for financial returns • Maintaining the Academy coding structure to include minor revisions

What Our Customers Say

I think Services 4 Schools’ greatest strength is their flexibility and adaptability. When we have needed additional advice and support – for example, when new schools have joined the trust, or a school has struggled with their new financial responsibilities – Services 4 Schools have been quick to react and provide the support we need. We have also been impressed with their ability to provide quality advice both at individual school level and finance director level

CEO, mat in chester

We swapped suppliers for our Enhanced RO Assurance testing service to S4S in 2020 after being dissatisifed with our big name previous provider.  

 

I can say without hesitation that the level of knowledge and depth of evaluation carried out by S4S has been exceptional.  The quality of the information and associated assurance level, we are now able to share with and report to.

 

I would not hesitate to unreservedly recommend S4S to anyone

Strategic business manager, birmingham

S4S are a great support in managing aspects of the schools data and finance.  Staff are helpful and supportive and provide advice and guidance throughout the academic year on a variety of subjects including Census, statutory submissions and budget management.  The service is invaluable in saving time and resources particularly during busier periods of the school year. 

school business manager, walsall

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