Accounting officer: role and responsibilities

Understand the accounting officer's responsibilities, what happens if they're absent and where to access training for this role.

Last reviewed on 4 August 2023See updates
School types: AcademySchool phases: AllRef: 32408
  1. Trustees must appoint an accounting officer 
  2. Main responsibilities
  3. See examples of training 

Trustees must appoint an accounting officer 

  • They should be an employee of your trust
  • They should be a senior executive leader – in single academy trusts this should be the principal, in multi-academy trusts (MATs) it should be the chief executive or equivalent 
  • They must be a fit and suitable person for the role
  • The roles of senior executive leader and accounting officer must not rotate
  • The roles of accounting officer and chief financial officer should not be occupied by the same person
  • Your trust must get prior approval from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) if, in exceptional circumstances, it wants to appoint an accounting officer who isn't a trust employee 

This is outlined in paragraphs 1.27 and 1.28 of the Academy Trust Handbook (ATH) 2023.

Main responsibilities


  • This role is all about financial accountability and keeping proper financial records
  • They primarily play a leadership role


Be personally responsible to Parliament, and to the ESFA's accounting officer, for the financial resources under