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The Academy Trust Handbook 2023: Simplification and Updates

11th July 2023

The Academy Trust Handbook 2023 (ATH) has now been released with significant changes and simplifications.

As one of the sector representative bodies, we are delighted to have been able to play our part in the simplification process.

In this article, we explore the key updates and improvements to the handbook.

  • The ATH brings plenty of good news for academy trusts: The handbook is now 16 pages shorter, making it more concise and easier to navigate

  • The Budget Forecast Return filing deadline has been extended to 31 August 2023, providing additional time for trusts to complete their financial reporting. 

  • Trusts now have more discretion regarding monthly management accounts, giving them greater flexibility in financial management. The position on GAG pooling has been clarified, ensuring clarity and consistency in financial reporting practices. 

  • The approval threshold for related party transactions has been raised to £40,000 for prior approval (was £20,000), allowing trusts more leeway in managing transactions.

  • Related party transaction exemptions have been introduced for transactions with colleges, universities and schools that are sponsors, as well as other state funded schools and academies (but not their trading subsidiaries).

Other notable changes include:

  • The board's responsibility to identify the necessary financial knowledge required to hold the executive team accountable has been clarified, ensuring effective governance. 

  • It is now explicitly stated that the Accounting Office cannot act as the CFO, highlighting the importance of separating these roles for financial integrity.

  • Trusts no longer require ESFA approval for salary sacrifice schemes related to Electric Vehicle schemes, streamlining administrative processes.

ESFA approval and safety:

And of course, the ATH now takes the opportunity to strengthen the message regarding the health and safety of children, which is why there is additional content about the safety and management of the school estate.

If you have any questions or need further clarification on the new ATH, please contact your usual Bishop Fleming advisor. 

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