Guidance

Academies: information for new openers

Information that new academies will need in their first period of opening.

Welcome pack and letter to new academies

You’ll receive a welcome pack on your date of opening which aims to guide you through your first few months on matters relating to:

  • funding
  • funding agreement compliance
  • finance
  • financial assurance

The latest edition of the welcome pack is the new academies welcome pack: February 2018 (PDF, 500KB, 27 pages) .

The welcome pack includes:

  • details of key actions for you to fulfil within your first few months of opening
  • links to more information about some of the detailed guidelines that you’ll need
  • information about other finance related activities for which we’re not responsible and signposts to where you can find further information
  • an introduction to our areas of work to give you a broad overview of where you can expect to interact with us
  • an introduction to our key services and systems and what you need to know and do to use these services successfully

You’ll also receive a welcome letter from our chief executive.

We’ve published a wall planner for academies showing key dates about ESFA activities for the 2017 to 2018 academic year.

Our customer charter summarises our role and service to academies.

You can receive regular updates from ESFA by subscribing to our e-bulletin. You can also follow us on Twitter to receive regular updates and subscribe to our YouTube channel to view our latest videos.

Academies funding allocation delivery schedule

The schedule below shows ESFA timescales for issuing funding allocations to schools becoming new academies.

Academies opening in the 2017 to 2018 academic year

We send a draft funding allocation guide, a reminder funding allocation guide and a final funding allocation guide for the first academic year of opening (2017 to 2018).

We send draft funding allocation guides as soon as possible after an academy order is granted with reminder funding allocation guides being sent the month prior to opening. You’ll receive these by email using the address you gave your project lead during conversion.

We’ll upload final funding allocations to Document Exchange (via Secure Access). Multi-academy trusts will be able to see new academies in their trusts in the second month of opening.

Date of academy opening Reminder funding allocation guide issued Final funding allocation guide issued by
1 February 2018 Mid January 2018 Late February 2018
1 March 2018 Mid February 2018 Late March 2018

Estimating your allocation

Before you receive your draft funding allocation guide, you can make an estimate of your allocation. We’ve produced a guide that explains how to estimate a new academy’s revenue funding, known as the general annual grant (GAG). The guide links to online data and has examples for each of the main elements of the GAG.

For academies opening as free schools, studio schools or university technical colleges (UTC), your school budget share will be based on the local authority funding formula. We’ve produced templates for individual schools to calculate indicative allocations based on their own information.

These are available, with further information about funding, for each of these academy types:

Academies contact information

You must notify ESFA using get information about schools about changes in key governance contacts.

ESFA sends important and confidential information to academies throughout the year, so it’s important we have the right contact details for you.

Financial monitoring and assurance requirements

Academy trusts are independent charitable companies and ESFA aims to keep a reasonable balance between this independence and the need for you and ESFA to account for public money.

ESFA has worked with academies to achieve a position where the accountability requirements are satisfied while the administrative burden is minimised. The main components of the accountability framework and assurance arrangements are set out below.

Academies Financial Handbook

Your funding agreement, together with the Academies Financial Handbook, sets out all of the financial accountability requirements that apply to academies.

Financial management and governance self-assessment (FMGS)

Accounting officers of academy trusts must submit their financial management and governance self-assessment (FMGS) using the online form or provide alternative assurance within 4 months of opening.

If you’re joining an existing multi-academy trust (MAT) which has previously prepared audited accounts and you plan to adopt the same financial management and governance arrangements, your MAT accounting officer will need to confirm this on the online form.

The FMGS is a short self-assessment that provides a way for you and ESFA to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Academies Financial Handbook.

Budget forecasts

Academy trusts must monitor and manage their own budgets to ensure effective financial oversight of public funds. We review academy trusts’ budget projections and actual results to assess financial health.

New academy trusts and new academies joining an existing multi-academy trust are required to submit their budget forecast return 6 weeks after receiving their FAP.

Academies accounts direction

Academy trusts must submit to ESFA audited annual report and financial statements, an online cover form and associated auditor’s management letter for the period ending 31 August each year by 31 December. The annual report and financial statements must be prepared in accordance with the academies accounts direction.

Academies accounts return

Academy trusts will be required to submit an accounts return by 19 January 2018 to ESFA, covering the previous trust financial year or period (ending 31 August). All trusts that had academies open as at 31 August should prepare annual reports and financial statements for the period to 31 August and should complete the accounts return. We’ll communicate any changes to arrangements for submitting your accounts return using our e-bulletin.

Transferring the balance of your predecessor school’s funds

For academies without a sponsor your local authority must finalise your closing balance within 4 months of your conversion date. You are asked to work with your local authority to facilitate this.

If the agreed closing balance is a surplus, your local authority must pay within one month of finalising the amount. If the agreed closing balance is a deficit, ESFA will settle that amount with your local authority and set up a repayment plan with you. For small amounts, you can repay the deficit directly to your local authority, as long as you inform us in advance.

If you’re unable to agree the amount owed, you can ask us to review it, but must do so within one month of your local authority making their decision on the final closing balance.

For sponsored academies, any deficit remains with the local authority and doesn’t have to be repaid by your academy trust.

The way surpluses are dealt with depends on how you were granted an academy order. In most cases, an academy order was issued because the school’s governing body applied for one and the surplus transfers to the academy trust.

If an academy order is issued without an application from the governing body, any surplus remains with the local authority. In practice, some local authorities have chosen to transfer the surplus.

For converter projects, if your local authority determines there is a deficit balance at the date of conversion, ESFA will write to you to agree that amount and, subject to agreement, will reimburse that sum to your local authority and recover it from your GAG. ESFA will work with you to agree a timetable for doing so. Any surpluses should be paid across by your local authority with no involvement from the department.

Academies are not allowed to run a deficit without remedial action. Any that open with a transferred deficit will need to agree at the earliest opportunity with ESFA, a plan to repay it from GAG instalments. Academies that develop a deficit after opening will have to agree a restructuring plan with ESFA.

Any queries about this process not answered by the further information document should be made to ESFA’s surplus and deficits team.

Revenue funding: start-up grant

Schools get a start-up grant of £25,000 to help with the costs of converting, such as legal fees, stationery and signage. The grant is paid into your school’s new bank account when the Secretary of State has made an academy order agreeing to the conversion.

Your school can keep any unspent balance from this flat rate grant and add it to overall income.

Start-up funding information is also available for sponsored academies.

Contact details

If you have any queries the website does not answer, please contact the academies enquiry service at:

EFA questions

For schools, local authorities, other education institutions and providers, accountants, auditors and other professional advisers with queries for the Education Funding Agency

Published 11 March 2014
Last updated 18 December 2017 + show all updates
  1. We've added the December 2017 version of the welcome pack and updated the academies funding allocation delivery schedule.
  2. We've updated the academies funding allocation delivery schedule and replaced the link to a video guides, which can now be watched on this page.
  3. Updated the schedule for when new academies will receive their funding allocations statements for both 2016 to 2017 and 2017 to 2018 academic years .
  4. Updated to include the December welcome pack
  5. Updated to include the November welcome pack
  6. Updated to include the October edition of the welcome pack
  7. Updated for September openers.
  8. Updated to include the July edition of the welcome pack.
  9. Updated for June openers
  10. Update and added welcome pack for May 2016 openers.
  11. Update and added welcome pack for April openers.
  12. Updated the welcome pack for new academies.
  13. Updated with the February welcome pack.
  14. Timetable of Funding Allocation documents for In year openers now available for openers up to March 2017
  15. Updated with the January 2016 welcome pack for new academies
  16. Updated with welcome pack for academies opening in December 2015.
  17. Updated with academies welcome pack for November 2015.
  18. Updated with the welcome pack for October openers.
  19. Updated with the September 2015 new academies welcome pack.
  20. Update to funding allocations delivery schedule.
  21. Updated welcome pack for new academies published
  22. New academies welcome pack updated and re-published for March 2015 openers
  23. Welcome pack updated for new openers from 2 February 2015
  24. The funding allocation delivery schedule has been updated and the there is now a link to a guide about estimating a new academy’s revenue funding.
  25. Welcome pack updated for new openers from 2 January 2015
  26. Welcome pack updated for new openers from 1 December 2014
  27. Welcome pack for new academies updated.
  28. Welcome pack for new academies added.
  29. Updated to include funding allocation delivery schedule for academies opening in the 2014 to 2015 academic year and details about estimating allocations.
  30. First published.