Guidance

Academies accounts return

Information trusts to complete their accounts return.

Accessing the accounts return online form

The accounts return is now open please use this link to access the form. The deadline for submission by your auditors is the 21 January 2019.

The main guidance document for this year’s return is here:

If you’re having difficulties accessing the form please see this registration guidance page.

If you are having difficulties loading the AR form please check you have either the latest browser downloaded or try using an alternative browser. To find out more about internet browsers please see this helpful guide.

2017 to 2018 accounts return

Academy trusts preparing their financial statements for the year ending 31 August 2018 are also required to complete the accounts return. We’ve updated the accounts return guidance including the guide to completing the form, the excel workbook to help prepare your return and we’ve added a section explaining the pension requirements. Please note that trusts must complete the online form to submit their accounts return by 21 January 2019. If you are late submitting we will publish the names of all the trusts who are late in submitting two or more annual financial returns.

We have also published a document that outlines the key differences between the financial statements and the accounts return for the year 2017 to 2018. This highlights new information that trusts are required to report on as well as listing historical differences between the financial statements and the accounts return. Trusts can use this when preparing financial statements to plan ahead for the accounts return.

Pension actuarial results schedule

This year, to help with the completion of the pension section, we have mapped the 4 actuarial reports of AON, Barnett Waddingham, Hymans Robertson and Mercer to the accounts return on line form using the forms new referencing. These example reports have been annotated by the accounts return team which will translate to your final pension actuarial statement. This should help you complete your balance sheet funds and disclosure tab-pension information section of the accounts return.

How to contact us if you have queries

This year we are holding a series of weekly Skype calls for accounts return form users. These will run from November through to January. We welcome all accounts return related questions and will try and help users then and there.

Date Skype call time
13 November 2018 13:00 – 14:00
20 November 2018 13:00 – 14:00
27 November 2018 13:00 – 14:00
27 November 2018 13:00 – 14:00
4 December 2018 13:00 – 14:00
11 December 2018 13:00 – 14:00
18 December 2018 13:00 – 14:00
Daily 8 January 2019 - 21 January 2019 13:00 – 14:00

If you use Skype, you can access the meeting via this link to join Skype meeting

If you don’t use Skype, you can dial 0203 321 5238 and, when prompted, enter the meeting code 7596 8164

Closed and transferred trusts

Academy trusts that close or transfer to a new trust between 1 September 2018 and 31 August 2019 should submit a final accounts return using the Accounts return 2017 to 2018: Excel workbook (XLSM, 6.01MB) . If your trust closed before the 31 August 2018 you must submit your accounts return via the online form. We will not accept Excel returns for these trusts.

Your auditors must sign off your return and it must reflect transferring/closing balance of the trust. This can be completed whilst preparing the final financial statements for the trust. If your trust is due to close or transfer please contact us via the enquiry form and we will provide further details.

Why do we collect the accounts return from academy trusts?

ESFA requires all academy trusts preparing financial statements as at 31 August each year and/or with open academies at 31 August in that year to submit an accounts return for the same year.

DfE uses the information provided in the accounts return to prepare the academies consolidated annual report and accounts, which consolidates the accounts of more than 3,000 individual academy trusts to reflect the financial performance of the whole academy sector. It is prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (as amended for the public sector context) described in HMT’s financial reporting manual (FReM).

We ask academy trusts complete the accounts return because DfE requires full accounting information. Individual trust financial statements do not provide the necessary information consistently and in accordance with the FReM to enable DfE to prepare the SARA.

You can read the academies consolidated annual report and accounts: 2015 to 2016.

We’ve also produced an accounts return introductory video where the ESFA explains more about this academy return. Accounts return introductory video

These links are for other academy financial returns:

ESFA questions

If you have any questions about the accounts return, please contact us using our enquiry form.

Published 28 September 2017
Last updated 16 November 2018 + show all updates
  1. We've added a new version of the Excel workbook for users.
  2. Page updated to reinstate the link to the online form for the academies accounts return.
  3. Please note: The online form for the academies accounts return is currently unavailable due to technical issues. We expect to restore the system by 10am on 31 October 2018
  4. Updated to include extra guidance on how translate a trust's pension statement into the accounts return. Also updated Excel workbook and details for the validation error mapping to the Excel workbook.
  5. Updated with a link to the accounts return online form which is now live for academy trusts to use to complete and submit their accounts return by 21 January 2019.
  6. We have published the accounts return online form guidance, the form will go-live in October and your external auditors must submit your return by 21 January 2019
  7. We have updated the accounts return page to include a new document that explains the differences between the preparation for the financial statements and that of the accounts return. We will update this page next in September 2018 with the detailed guidance for the accounts return.
  8. We have addded a guidance video to provide further details about the accounts return process
  9. Updated as the accounts return online form is now closed for the 2016 to 2017 collection. It'll re-open in October 2018 for the 2017 to 2018 collection with a deadline of the 21 January 2019.
  10. Updated to add the Accounts return 2017 to 2018 Excel workbook for academy trusts that close or transfer between 1 September 2017 and 31 August 2018.
  11. Updated with corrections to the Excel workbook and to add a new doument that provides a list of trusts and academies included within the aggregated balance counterparty entry.
  12. We've added a link to the most recent accounts return webinar.
  13. We've updated this page to include a link to the webinar broadcast on 9 November 2017 which introduces ESFA’s academies accounts return.
  14. Guidance updated (page 23, paragraph 103) to make clear that trusts should only use full time equivalents when calculating the staff gender analysis. Excel workbook updated following changes to the online form and some formula updates.
  15. Page updated to correct a formula in the Excel worksheet and to correct information about trustee remuneration on page 24 of the guide to completing the return.
  16. First published.