Academies accounts return

Information to help academy trusts to complete their 2016 to 2017 accounts return.


ESFA requires all academy trusts preparing financial statements as at 31 August 2017 and/or with open academies at 31 August 2017 to submit an accounts return for 2016 to 2017 by 19 January 2018.

DfE will use the information provided in the accounts return to prepare the sector annual report and accounts (SARA) for the academic year to 31 August 2017.

SARA 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 also view the recordings of our webinars, introducing ESFA’s academies accounts return.

Weekly Skype Q&A sessions

ESFA hosts weekly Skype conferencing Q&A sessions from 4pm to 5pm every Thursday to answer your questions about the accounts return.

Please use this Join Skype Meeting link to access the conference and download the web app if necessary.

If you don’t use Skype, you can join by phone. Call 02033 215238 and, when instructed, enter the conference ID (2081 9375).

Accessing the accounts return online form

When registered and set up, use this link for the accounts return online form

Please note, you can only assign one role per person to work on the accounts return. If the approver also prepares the return, they don’t need to be assigned separately as a preparer.

The online form uses the IDAMS registration service and trusts must be registered and set up to use the service before they can access the form.

Read this guide on how to register and set up the online forms for the accounts return.

Guide to completing the online form

We’ve published a List of trusts and academies included within the aggregated balance counterparty entry (MS Excel Spreadsheet, 262KB) to help trusts identify the counterparties included within the Counterparty entry “Academies – Includes the aggregated balances with other Academies or Academy Trusts” in the online form.

Accounts return online form screenshots

You can also view screenshots from sections of the online form to help preparers to become familiar with the appearance of the online form and the information they need to include in the accounts return.

Accounts return 2016 to 2017 Excel workbook

The accounts return Excel workbook follows the same structure as the online return. You can use the workbook to calculate and verify figures before they’re entered into the online return.

You can use the workbook as an aid to completion but cannot use it to submit the accounts return. You must submit the accounts return using using the accounts return online form.

Improving the accounts return for 2016/17

We’ve developed the accounts return for 2016/17 using sector feedback, based on last year’s return. The incorporated feedback from the academy representatives on the academies finance and assurance steering group. We’ve also conducted extensive user acceptance testing with trusts over the summer of 2017.

ESFA questions

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

Published 28 September 2017
Last updated 20 December 2017 + show all updates
  1. 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.
  2. We've added a link to the most recent accounts return webinar.
  3. We've updated this page to include a link to the webinar broadcast on 9 November 2017 which introduces ESFA’s academies accounts return.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. First published.