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Annual Reports & Accounts

Academy Trust name: Synaptic
Academy Trust company number: 07588104 (England and Wales)
Year ended: 31 August 2014

I accept that as accounting officer of the Synaptic Trust I am responsible and accountable for ensuring that the academy Trust delivers good value in the use of public resources. I am aware of the guide to academy value for money statements published by the Education Funding Agency and understand that value for money refers to the educational and wider societal outcomes achieved in return for the taxpayer resources received.

I set out below how I have ensured that the academy Trust’s use of its resources has provided good value for money during the academic year.

The Trust's priority aim is to advance, for the public benefit, education, by maintaining, managing and developing academies offering a broad and balanced curriculum - "To Create Futures for All"

We are a learning community, which creates chances for dreamers, idea makers and innovators to connect, thrive and outperform. We empower our children to use their skills as divergent thinkers, responsible role models and leaders to carve out their own futures, and become extraordinary citizens.

We are passionate that all schools in our family are free to follow their own destinies based on the needs and aspirations of their investors. Our uniqueness and different strengths ensures that our communities grow and prosper and that we have opportunities to support and learn from each other as we create futures for all.

The Aims of the Trust are to:

Improving Educational Results

Highly effective leaders and managers have a very ambitious vision for the Trust, they have high expectations of pupils and secure effective support from others. Effective systems for tracking, monitoring and evaluating the impact of teaching lead to consistently good and outstanding outcomes in pupils' achievement and well being. Pupil and Parents/Carers have high levels of confidence in the quality of teaching and learning and their views are used to review and adjust provision. A range of monitoring and information gathering procedures ensure that governors are well informed about the strengths and areas of development of the academy and are, therefore, able to evaluate both its performance and the impact of improvement strategies. Effective consultation procedures ensures the Trust takes account of parents'/carers' views and is guided by them when decision making.

Roles and responsibilities for safeguarding pupils are well defined and well embedded leading to highly effective practice.

Targeted Improvement

The staffing structure across the Trust is constantly under review. It changes every year to meet the needs of the Trust’s and each individual school’s priorities, stakeholders and practitioners individual professional development. Governors of all schools agree it once a year. Last year we continued with developing the role of leaders who worked on our Core and Foundation Priorities for the year and Kite Marks. 

Collaboration

The Trust has engaged with different partners to share delivery and good practice. This has resulted in very positive outcomes, especially in helping to drive up standards. The cost to the Trust has been marginal.

The Executive Head worked as a lead facilitator at the IOE with NPQH, NPQSL and NPQML students.

One of our Deputy Headteachers works with the LA and helps them to moderate EYFS settings.

We are an accredited school and have run good to outstanding programmes for schools across London. Many teachers as a result have raised their game and have reported that they are now delivering outstanding lessons.

The Executive Headteacher has lectured at the IOE and for different educational companies on what outstanding practice looks like in action.

The Trust is a placement school for trainee Headteachers.

The Executive Head has coached three NPQH trainee Heads this year.

The Trust has supported placement teaching for students from Brunel, Goldsmiths, Roehampton, UEL and Kingston universities.

The Executive Headteacher worked for the LA as a Link Advisor supporting two schools.

FA worked with the Freedom project with members of the school community.

FA worked with SMART and helped to train future TAs.

The Trust has worked with the LA on developing new assessment arrangements.

FA hosted four LA headteacher conferences.

FA worked in partnership with Edenham High School on Sport’s Development.

The Trust hosted visits from other schools to find out about our work in ICT and the curriculum and teachers from Germany as part of a British Council, Comenius Project.

Two senior leaders from WTA lectured at conferences in Manchester and London for the National Literacy Trust.

The Trust is working with Apple to develop digital learning and WTA hosted training for other schools.

Teachers across the Trust were trained as mentors to support Roehampton teacher training students.

WTA hosted a Maths cluster group with five local schools on how to develop problem solving in Numeracy lessons.

Focus on Individual Pupils

We made significant changes to our budget to accommodate additional activities, however, this did not impinge on other cost centres.

Our exciting Learning Challenge Curriculum ensures that all pupils have access to a personalised learning programme.

Across the Trust we were able to fund a large team teaching assistants Early Years Educators to support learning in core subjects on a 1:1 or a small group basis, depending on the needs of the individual.

Staff have benefited from a range of CPD including speech and language, various SEN training, training from Croydon LA in core subjects and ICT training. We have purchased a range of ICT equipment across the Trust to enhance the learning experience amongst the pupils and staff.

The Education Welfare service continually monitors and supports vulnerable families and persistent attendance, continues to improve.

Our Behaviour/Learning Mentors support our most vulnerable pupils and their families.  Support is given by means of 1:1 or small social skills groups.

New Initiatives

West Thornton 

Year Five Project – £160,000

Teaching School – £90,000

Book Festival – £3,000

Authors in residence – £1000

Sports Coach – £21,000

Forest Academy

Two Year Old Provision (redevelopment of two existing rooms) – £34,000

Sports Coach – £21,000

New iPads – £12,000

Early Years Foundation Stage area improvements – £24,000 

Quantifying Improvements

Excellent relationships between practitioners and pupils and consistent application of effective behaviour management procedures result in pupils behaving extremely well in their lessons and a positive attitude to learning. A supportive and extremely positive ethos means that pupils are polite, respectful to adults and each other and effectively take care of themselves and each other and their surroundings. Rigorous monitoring of pupils' behaviour and a whole academy focus on positive relationships, acceptance of diversity and pupils' rights and responsibilities results in instances of bullying and racism or other forms of inappropriate behaviour being rare. Pupil participation in securing their own safety develops their own understanding of issues. A high level of parental involvement and effective engagement with outside agencies ensures any serious instances of inappropriate behaviour are dealt with swiftly and effectively. Designated staff and effective systems and procedures allow pupils to raise any concerns they may have. Good pupil engagement and strong procedures for promoting good attendance and tackling absenteeism means we feel confident about pupil attendance in the future (at present it is above national in both academies).

Financial Governance and Oversight

The Trust’s system of financial governance is a strength. Governors are emailed monthly financial reports as well as termly Responsible Officer reports. During committee meetings they advise and challenge on the cost and effectiveness of spending (see below).

Opportunities for potential improvement:

Governors will tighten up the process of agreeing and reporting to auditors for our yearly audited “Governors’ Report and Financial Statements for the Period Ended 31 August 2014.”

Better Purchasing

The Trust appraises all contracts every year and where it can renegotiates to get a better financial deal e.g. the cleaning contract. The Trust always seeks at least three quotes for projects over £5,000. The Trust works in partnership with all of its Academies to share administration (e.g. the Trust Business Manager) and procurement (e.g. JC Associates Financial Services) costs.

Opportunities for potential improvement:

Explore alternative purchasing options both on-line and direct through suppliers to find the best value.

Work with other local schools in partnership to identify products and services that can be procured across a number of schools in order to drive down cost and/or negotiate favourable rates.

Reviewing Controls and Managing Risks

Directors have appointed Stuart Roberts (Executive Headteacher and CEO) as Accounting Officer. He is personally responsible to Parliament, and to the Accounting Officer of the EFA, for the resources under their control, and must be able to assure Parliament and the public of high standards of probity in the management of public funds.

The essence of the role is a personal responsibility for:

regularity - dealing with all items of income and expenditure in accordance with legislation, the terms of the Trust's funding agreement and this Handbook, and compliance with internal Trust procedures. This includes spending public money for the purposes intended by Parliament;

propriety – the requirement that expenditure and receipts should be dealt with in accordance with Parliament’s intentions and the principles of Parliamentary control. This covers standards of conduct, behaviour and corporate governance; and

value for money – this is about achieving the best possible educational and wider societal outcomes through the economic, efficient and effective use of all the resources in the Trust's charge, the avoidance of waste and extravagance, and prudent and economical administration. A key objective is to achieve value for money not only for the Academy Trust but for taxpayers more generally.

The Accounting Officer also has responsibilities for keeping proper financial records and accounts, and for the management of opportunities and risks. Whilst the Accounting Officer is accountable for the Academy Trust's financial affairs, the delivery of the Trust's detailed accounting processes is delegated to the Business Manager. The Accounting Officer must advise the board of Trustees in writing if, at any time, in his or her opinion, any action or policy under consideration by them is incompatible with the terms of the Handbook or FA. Similarly, the Accounting Officer must advise the board in writing if the board appears to be failing to act where required to do so by the terms and conditions of the Handbook or FA. Where the board of Trustees is minded to proceed, despite the advice of the Accounting Officer, the Accounting Officer must consider the reasons the board gives for its decision. If, after considering the reasons given by the board, the Accounting Officer still considers that the action proposed by the board is in breach of the Handbook or FA, the Accounting Officer must advise the EFA’s Accounting Officer of the position in writing.

The Trust has appointed a Responsible Officer (RO) who provides Directors/Governors with an independent oversight of each Academies financial affairs. The main duties of the RO are to provide the Governing Body with independent assurance that:

The Responsible Officer undertakes a termly programme of reviews to ensure that financial transactions have been properly processed and that controls are operating as laid down by the Governing Body. A report of the findings from each visit is presented to the Operations Committee and to the Trust's Business Manager, who informs the Accounting Officer and the Board of Directors of any short comings.

Directors/Governors receive monthly budget reports as well as cost centre reports. Operations Committee minutes show that Directors/Governors challenge any inconsistencies or overspends. Insurance is used cost-effectively to manage risks.

Directors carry out a Financial Risk Assessment once year (it is under constant review), which sets out the key risks facing the Trust. These relate to teaching, provision of facilities and other operational areas of the Trust, and its finances.

Directors assess:

Strategic and reputational risks - which includes charitable objects, charitable status, long term demand, competition, stakeholder, partnership, investment powers, insurance, macroeconomic, natural disaster, technology, Trustee profile, expenditure, quality of service, fraud, failure to comply with legislation, litigation, delegation; operational risks and key leader;

Operational risks - which includes quality, timeliness, review, quantity, Trustee, management, staff, volunteer, health and safety, donor, marketing, grants receivable, supplier selection, key supplier dependency and value for money;

Compliance risks - which includes employee legislation, environmental legislation, financial reporting, charities legislation, tax, data protection, welfare compliance, sector compliance and government grant/licensing; and

Financial risks - which includes overall financial control, financial systems, income, expenditure, treasury fixed asset, investment, stock, debtors, taxation, provision & contingent liability, related party, fund and pension.
 

Name: Stuart Roberts

 

Academy Trust Accounting Officer

Date: 9th October 2014