Academies accounts return

Information to help academy trusts to complete their accounts return.

2017 to 2018 accounts return

All academy trusts open in the year to 31st August 2018 are required to complete the accounts return. We have published a document that outlines the key differences between the financial statements and the accounts return for the year 2017-18. 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.

We’ll publish the guide to completing the 31 August 2018 accounts return in September 2018. The Academies accounts return 2016-17: guide to completing the online form (PDF, 826KB, 48 pages) guidance is available for reference until the 2017-18 updated version is released. Please note that these trusts must complete the online form to submit their accounts return.

Closed and Transferred Trusts

Academy trusts that close or transfer to a new trust between 1 September 217 and 31 August 2018 should submit a final accounts return using the Accounts return 2017 to 2018: Excel workbook (XLSM, 5.52MB) .

Excel returns will only be accepted when the form isn’t live. 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.

Accessing the accounts return online form

Please note that the online form is now closed. It will reopen in October 2018 for completion of 2017-18 accounts return – the deadline for submission by your auditors is the 21 January 2019


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

ESFA questions

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

Published 28 September 2017
Last updated 18 July 2018 + show all updates
  1. 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.
  2. We have addded a guidance video to provide further details about the accounts return process
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. We've added a link to the most recent accounts return webinar.
  7. We've updated this page to include a link to the webinar broadcast on 9 November 2017 which introduces ESFA’s academies accounts return.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. First published.