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Annual Governance Statement

As trustees, we acknowledge we have overall responsibility for ensuring that Eaglesfield Paddle CE Primary Academy has an effective and appropriate system of control, financial and otherwise. However such a system is designed to manage rather than eliminate the risk of failure to achieve business objectives, and can provide only reasonable and not absolute assurance against material misstatement or loss.

 

As trustees, we have reviewed and taken account of the guidance in DfE’s Governance Handbook and competency framework for governance.

 

The Board of Trustees has delegated the day-to-day responsibility to the Head Teacher, as Accounting Officer, for ensuring financial controls conform with the requirements of both propriety and good financial management and in accordance with the requirements and responsibilities assigned to it in the funding agreement between Eaglesfield Paddle CE Primary Academy and the Secretary of State for Education. They are also responsible for reporting to the Board of Trustees any material weaknesses or breakdowns in internal control.

 

Governance

 

The information on governance included below supplements that described in the Report of the Trustees and in the Trustees Responsibility Statement.  At the Academy AGM, following an evaluation and review of the structure of the board, Members agreed that the number of Foundation Governors should be reduced from ten to eight governors as it was felt that the current structure was excessive and appointment of Foundation Governors was becoming more challenging. 

 

As a result of the restrictions put in place to manage the pandemic, the board of trustees conducted all their meetings virtually and met formally six times during the year.  It was apparent that virtual meetings were both effective and efficient, and this ensure that trustee attendance was high across the year.  Attendance during the year at meetings of the board of trustees was as follows:

 

Trustee

Notes

Meetings Attended

Possible Meetings

AM Steel

Chair of Trustees

6

6

S Tucker

Vice Chair of Trustees

5

6

N Vatter

 

6

6

C Fleming

 

5

6

L McNeil

 

6

6

F Boyles

End of office Nov 2020

1

1

P Sharman

 

6

6

R Way

Appointed Nov 2020

5

5

L Elliot

 

6

6

H Gillam

 

6

6

C Tiffen

 

6

6

E Strong

 

5

6

S Carruthers

 

3

6

D Watson

 

6

6

Revd A Thompson

 

2

6

 

The main challenges to governance were the inability to visit school to undertake face-to-face reviews, however in the face of the global pandemic, the role of trustees was weighted more heavily towards supporting the school’s leadership team in ensuring a consistent delivery of teaching and learning throughout the year.  Challenge was still undertaken during full board and subcommittee meetings.

 

The Senior Leadership Team and Trustees delivered a very proactive approach in regards to the challenges presented by the continuing COVID 19 pandemic. During school closures in spring 2021 the school continued to operate for Key Worker children and children who had been identified as vulnerable.  Throughout the year the school operated in ‘key stage and class bubbles’ to reduce the spread of the virus, this ensured that the academy was able to provide teaching and learning to all children, and to support their families.  Home schooling via remote learning was maintained for those children who had to isolate this ensured continuity of education for our children. Regular virtual and telephone contact was maintained to ensure that children were safeguarded and our families were supported through this challenging time.

 

Risk assessments were put in place in order to facilitate the safe operation of the school, and a high level of hand and respiratory hygiene was implemented throughout school.  In addition, other organisational and operational measures were carried out to keep our children, staff and families safe, this included additional cleaning routines and an investment into increasing staffing in this area.

 

It remained a key priority for the academy to keep education for our children at consistent level and of high quality, therefore, online learning was used across the school during periods of isolation and continues to remain in place for any future periods of school closure, or pupil isolation going forward. 

 

Mental health was a key consideration during this time, and lesson time was allocated each day for mental well-being activities.  In addition, well-being support was also offered to all members of the school staff and a culture of support, encouragement and consideration was adopted to help the wider Paddle Family through this unprecedented time.

 

Trustees continued to receive the same volume of high quality comprehensive reports, data and information from the School Business Manager, Leadership Team and Curriculum Leaders as prior to the pandemic.  In particular, the appointment of a new Internal Scrutineer, Mt Stephen Lester, MBE, who undertook three reviews and provided comprehensive detailed reports on the academy reassured governors that practices, procedures and policies in place were robust and effective. The Internal Scrutineer also undertook an external review of governance and the governance scheme of delegation and this document will be updated to give more clarity and transparency and published during the next academic year. 

 

The Finance Committee is a sub-committee of the main governing body. Its purpose is to assist the decision making of the governing body, by enabling more detailed consideration to be given to the best means of fulfilling the governing body's responsibility to ensure sound management of the Academy's finances and resources, including proper planning, monitoring and probity.  The School Business Manager, in her role as Chief Financial Officer, attended all meetings of the Finance Committee and provided comprehensive reports on all areas of financial management to the committee.

 

Within this committee a governor was appointed to lead the review of Benchmarking utilising the various DfE and ESFA benchmarking tools.  The committee received and interrogated budget monitoring reports each period.  The committee met formally seven times during the year Attendance, at the meetings in the year was as follows:

 

Trustee

Notes

Meetings Attended

Possible Meetings

P Sharman

Chair of Finance Committee

7

7

AM Steel

 

7

7

S Tucker

 

6

7

C Fleming

 

7

7

F Boyles

End of office Nov 2020

1

1

R Way

Appointed Nov 2020

6

6

H Gillam

 

6

7

D Watson

 

7

7

C Raven

Chief Financial Officer

7

7

 

Review of Value for Money

 

As Accounting Officer the Headteacher has responsibility for ensuring that the Academy Trust delivers good value in the use of public resources. The Accounting Officer understands that value for money refers to the educational and wider societal outcomes achieved in return for the taxpayer resources received.

 

The Accounting Officer considers how the Academy Trust’s use of its resources has provided good value for money during each academic year, and reports to the Board of Trustees where value for money can be improved, including the use of benchmarking data where available. The Accounting Officer for the Academy Trust has delivered improved value for money during the year by:

 

  • Ensuring trustees and all levels of management including budget holders are continuously trained in their roles and reminded of their responsibilities from a financial perspective;
  • Ensuring responsibilities are fully discharged by each trustee and responsible employee of the academy by directing the School Business Manager to produce the school’s financial procedures manual;
  • Utilising the DfE chart of accounts to ensure a robust detailed coding structure is in place which allows adequate control;
  • Utilising budgeting software to enable a comprehensive reporting structure used by the academy to ensure adequate control and support the decision making processes;
  • Having cost centres held on the system mutually exclusive to budget holders supported by detailed subjective analysis to support both statutory and management decision-making requirements;
  • Ensuring budget holders are fully involved in developing their own budget proposals, and once approved by Trustees take full ownership for decision-making and monitoring purposes;
  • Having standing item on the Senior Leadership Team's weekly meeting agenda to discuss all relevant financial matters, receive financial reports including the annual report and final accounts, and budget proposals, and, make decisions on future direction based on financial findings;
  • Ensuring Senior Leadership Team, in conjunction with trustees, are responsible for the strategic financial direction of the academy;
  • Ensuring trustees are involved in all stages in the annual revenue budget process, development of the medium term 3 year financial plan, and, the capital programme;
  • Having regular finance sub-committee meetings. The finance committee meet formally at least six times per annum. The current finance committee chair takes an active role in strategic financial matters affecting the academy. The chair is supported by a committee members with vast business and risk management experience;
  • Having clear terms of reference in giving the finance committee responsibility for developing the financial strategy of the academy in accordance with the overall objectives, and making recommendations to the governing body;
  • Ensuring finance committee receive regular reports including budget monitoring, cost benefit analysis, year-end projections, cash flow, trading services etc. These are challenged to ensure robustness and sustainability at all levels prior to making any required recommendations to the governing body as part of the overall decision making process;
  • The academy's staffing, admissions, and community committee have delegated responsibility for all establishment matters as this has the largest financial impact on the academy. They approve the establishment as part of the annual budget process, and, any requested amendments during the year must be authorised by staffing and community. Written and verbal reports are received half termly from the School Business Manager;
  • The academy holding an annual development day involving all staff, trustees, school council, and other stakeholders. The purpose is to develop the 3 year development plan which then forms a key stage in the budget process;
  • Ensuring the academy has clear divisions of responsibility with respect to raising purchase orders, receiving goods and services, and payment. All invoices are authorised by the accounting officer prior to payment, and controls are in place for signatories;
  • Having tender limits set out in the Financial Procedures Manual;
  • Ensuring the accounting officer reviews and signs for all reconciliations, including bank and payroll.

 

The Purpose of the System of Internal Control

 

The system of internal control is designed to manage risk to a reasonable level rather than to eliminate all risk of failure to achieve policies, aims and objectives. It can, therefore, only provide reasonable and not absolute assurance of effectiveness. The system of internal control is based on an ongoing process designed to identify and prioritise the risks to the achievement of the Academy Trust’s policies, aims and objectives, to evaluate the likelihood of those risks being realised and the impact should they be realised, and to manage them efficiently, effectively and economically. The system of internal control has been in place in Eaglesfield Paddle CE Primary Academy for the year ended 31st August 2021 and up to the date of approval of the annual report and financial statements.

 

Capacity to Handle Risk

 

The Board of Trustees has reviewed the key risks to which the Academy Trust is exposed together with the operating, financial and compliance controls that have been implemented to mitigate those risks. The Board of Trustees is of the view that there is a formal on-going process for identifying, evaluating and managing the Academy Trust's significant risks that has been in place for the year ended 31st August 2021 and up to the date of approval of the annual report and financial statements. This process is regularly reviewed by the Board of Trustees.

 

There are two governors who co-ordinate risk management activities on behalf of the school and they report to the Board of Trustees as a standing item at each meeting of the Trustees. These Governors hold a wealth of experience in managing risk within the nuclear industry and are, therefore, very well placed to undertake their authority and duties. They have reviewed their remit against the Academies Financial Handbook and have learnt and taken guidance from best practice across education and other industry standards.

 

The Risk and Control Framework

 

The Academy Trust’s system of internal control is based on a framework of regular management information and administrative procedures including the segregation of duties and a system of delegation and accountability. In particular, it includes:

 

  • comprehensive budgeting and monitoring systems with an annual budget and periodic financial reports which are reviewed and agreed by the Board of Trustees
  • regular reviews by the finance and general purposes committee of reports which indicate financial performance against the forecasts and of major purchase plans, capital works and expenditure programmes
  • setting targets to measure financial and other performance
  • clearly defined purchasing (asset purchase or capital investment) guidelines
  • identification and management of risks.

 

The Board of Trustees has decided to buy-in an internal audit service from SKL Education Consultancy.

 

The scrutineer’s role includes giving advice on financial and other matters and performing a range of checks on the Academy Trust’s financial and other systems.

 

On a termly basis, the reviewer reports to the Board of Trustees, on the operation of the systems of control and on the discharge of the Board of Trustees’ financial responsibilities and has prepared an annual summary report to the committee outlining the areas reviewed, key findings, recommendations and conclusions to help the committee consider actions and assess year on year progress.

 

Review of Effectiveness

 

As Accounting Officer, the Head Teacher has responsibility for reviewing the effectiveness of the system of internal control. During the year in question the review has been informed by:

 

  • the work of the Board of Trustees;
  • the reports and feedback from the governors responsible for risk management;
  • the internal scrutiny reports provided by the internal auditor;
  • the work of the Senior Leadership Team within the Academy who have responsibility for the development and maintenance of the internal control framework;
  • the comments made by the Academy's financial statements auditors in their management letters and other reports

 

All actions identified have been dealt with accordingly and none are outstanding.

 

The Accounting Officer, the Head Teacher has been advised of the implications of the result of their review of the system of internal control by the Finance Committee and a plan to address weaknesses and ensure continuous improvement of the system is in place.

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