The academy sector in England is responsible for the education of over 2 million pupils across nearly 6,000 academies. In October 2017 the Department for Education (the Department) published the Academy Sector Annual Report and Accounts for the first time. Previously, the Department included academies in its own accounts, which created a number of difficulties as academies have a different year-end (31 August) from central government (31 March). Parliament and HM Treasury agreed that the Department could remove academies from its accounts and produce a separate set of accounts covering the academy sector with an August year-end. This enabled the Department to publish its accounts in July 2017 with an unqualified audit opinion.
The Comptroller & Auditor General qualified his audit opinion on the 2015–16 Academy Sector Annual Report and Accounts due to ongoing issues relating to how the Department accounted for the land and buildings used by academies. The Department plans to address these issues for the next set of accounts in order to achieve an unqualified opinion, and in future years will look to publish the accounts earlier. Achieving these objectives would mean that the account would be more useful to stakeholders and provide greater transparency on the standards of governance and accountability in the sector, as the information would be presented on a more timely basis.
30 March 2018