Finance policy (academies): how to and examples

If you're writing or reviewing your finance policy, get advice on how to go about it, and see examples of policies from other academies.

Last reviewed on 7 September 2022
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 41571
  1. Use statutory guidance to structure your policy
  2. Treat the document as a whole-business manual
  3. Consult with stakeholders
  4. Embed the policy
  5. See examples of finance policies from other schools

Use statutory guidance to structure your policy

This should include:

  • The Academy Trust Handbook – to develop a policy that covers aspects of finance in a workable order. Cross-reference your procedures with the handbook, and pay particular attention to section 2 of the handbook, which covers your main financial requirements
  • The financial management and governance self-assessment – to help you to cover most of the financial requirements you must comply with. Read the list of questions and make sure to consider how you would answer them when writing your policy

Treat the document as a whole-business manual

You should look at your policy as more than just a financial document.

Use your policy to cover areas such as:

  • Your school's decision-making structure, outlining the roles of different responsible groups
  • Business ethics
  • Financial planning and administration
  • Ordering and purchasing
  • Payroll
  • Insurance and risk management
  • School security
  • Asset management

You could also include your policies on:

Consult with stakeholders

It's good practice to do this when writing or reviewing your policy.

Stakeholders are groups inside and outside your school community that have an impact on the policy's operation. For instance:

  • Finance staff
  • Budget holders
  • External auditors

Embed the policy

Make sure your policy is clear for the people who'll use it on a daily basis. This helps avoid misunderstandings and errors in practice, and will also make it easier for auditors to check compliance.

Keep your policy simple and make it specific to your setting. Be sure that the procedures outlined in your policy accurately reflect those in place in your school.

Consider arranging 1-on-1 time with those that will refer to the policy frequently, to go through salient points and ensure that they understand the policy. You could ask them to sign it to agree that they will follow the procedures set out in the policy, and that they're aware of the consequences if they don't.

Our thanks to Martin Owen, a chartered accountant (CPFA) with more than 20 years' experience of working with academies and schools, for this advice.

See examples of finance policies from other schools

Primary academy in Lincolnshire

Keelby Primary Academy has adopted its MAT's finance policy

It covers areas such as:

  • Financial planning
  • Payroll
  • Debt management
  • Cash management
  • Tax
  • Audit
  • Insurance

Secondary academy in Worcestershire

The Aspire Academy has a finance policy with appendices that cover:

  • Financial roles, responsibilities and terms of references
  • Financial procedures
  • Fraud, bribery and theft
  • Gifts and hospitality

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