The changes to internal audits
The Academies Financial Handbook dictates that all academy trusts must have some form of internal audit programme, and in the latest update the Handbook clarified that the internal audit programme must cover more than just financial controls. You should be thinking about areas such as health and safety, GDPR and Governance. Really, the list is endless!
Let’s talk about risk
So where to begin? Firstly, to know what areas you should be focussing on, you should review your risk register. This will direct you to your highest risk areas and you can then plan your internal audits to target the potential high risks that you have identified.
Rather than just ticking a box trustees need to evaluate how this programme can add value to their trust, highlighting areas of weakness or concern and enabling trustees to be able to focus on strategy and vision.
Internal audit assurance and recommendations
Your internal audit should provide your board with assurance that processes and procedures are in place and that the team are following best practice or more stringent regulations. It’s great to have excellent Financial Regulations and policies, but internal audits should be there to show you that regulations are actually being followed and adhered to correctly by everyone involved.
Where there are issues, recommendations will be made. These should always be reviewed by your Audit & Risk committee or equivalent. Responses to recommendations should be discussed and a timeline for action, as well as giving ownership to an individual to resolve the issues, should be recorded.
Once you have had your internal audit reviews, it is really important to communicate the outcomes across the trust, especially if you have Local Governing Bodies as they may be able to help resolve issues with local intervention.
Comparing schools within a trust may also be beneficial as if one school has relatively few recommendations raised, they may be able to support or train others and increase consistency of process across the trust.
Although increased internal scrutiny and audit visits may feel like time is taken away from teaching and learning, approaching it in the right way can reap rewards for your efficiencies and success as a trust.
Our team can help implement a full scope Of internal scrutiny.
Our expert team of experienced consultants provide an independent and highly professional Internal Scrutiny Service to support Trustees, Governors and Audit Committees in the review of Internal Controls in Academy Trusts. Our Internal Scrutiny Service includes financial and non-financial controls, bespoke to the setup of your trust and guided by trustees.