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For any questions relating to internal audit within schools please contact:
Sally-Anne Pearcey, Principal Auditor
Tel: 01438 845516
Email: sally-anne.pearcey@hertfordshire.gov.uk

 

Q: If I have concerns over the operation of my Parent Teachers Account what should I do? New

A: The school should monitor the controls in operation in the PTA account by:

  • Asking for a copy of the constitution
  • Asking for annual audited accounts
  • Asking for copies of meeting minutes
  • Asking for funds from the PTA to be provided via a PTA cheque / direct debit / bacs transfer from the PTA account
  • Querying any instances where a cheque has not been dual signed
  • Allowing the facilities for all cash collected to be counted on school premises with at least two people present.

 

Q: Can I buy a laptop for a pupil in receipt of pupil premium to use at home? New

A: Yes if you do the following:

  • The laptop is only to be loaned and remains the property of HCC
  • Have a set of rules that clearly define when it is appropriate to provide support in the form of a loaned laptop
  • Are able to issue a laptop to all pupils who meet the criteria and ask for the assistance
  • Arrange adequate insurance cover for the loaned laptops
  • Require a parent / guardian to sign an acceptable use policy to include such things as - the laptop will be looked after and kept in good condition, will be used for the intended purpose and not used to access illegal or unsuitable sites, will be returned at the end of the loan period

 

Q:I am an Academy can I name the Head of Assurance as a contact in my Whistleblowing policy? Updated

A: Yes – this is free where academies have a contract with SIAS to undertake Internal Audit Checks but for all other academies there is an annual charge of £25 with all work being chargeable.

Contact SIAS for details at:
Email: sias@hertfordshire.gov.uk

 

Q: I am a maintained school, do I have to complete an SFVS return in 2014? New

A: Yes - send your return to SIAS by 15 April 2014 at:
Email: sias@hertfordshire.gov.uk

 

Q: Can the Headteacher keep their iPad / Laptop when they leave? New

A: No – the laptop, iPad etc are all the property of HCC or the school and so should remain when the Headteacher leaves for the use of the next post holder (this applies equally to any other staff member.)

 

Q: Can the school sell surplus assets on ebay? New

A: Yes – the school has a duty to obtain the best price for assets that are surplus to requirement and ebay could facilitate this.  The sale of all assets must be approved in line with the school policy before the items are put on ebay.  VAT needs to be correctly accounted for on the income where applicable and the income needs to be paid into the account from which the purchase was made.

 

Q: Can the school provide tea and coffee for staff? New

A: If we go back to first principles on this, the test which is applied to the use of the general account is that it ‘must be for the purposes of the school and the Governing Body must maximise resources for the purposes of teaching and learning’. Therefore, the purchase of tea and coffee for staff is acceptable if it is:

  1. A small cost to the school eg a few jars of coffee, milk etc or a lunch for training days, staff meetings
  2. Open to all staff members
  3. Included in a policy approved and agreed by the Governing Body because they believe it is beneficial to staff to provide this benefit and are aware of the costs involved.
  4. Affordable within the school budget.

Previous tax advice is that, if all the staff can access the benefit and it is of insignificant benefit to each person, it is not a taxable benefit. Schools may wish to seek confirmation of this. 

 

Q: What are the rules around tax when a teacher has a mobile phone paid for my the school?

A: Please refer to the attachment below:

 

Q: Where there is a surplus from a school trip, should the school refund the parents?

A: At the end of each journey or visit, the surplus or deficit should be calculated from the journey book or visit sheet and confirmed against the ledger records. If the journey or visit makes a surplus, then parents and guardians should be offered a refund where the sum involved per pupil might reasonably be expected to be refunded.

As a guideline, any surplus of 5% or more of the contribution per head (or proportionate amount where full per head costs was not paid), should be offered as a refund (or whole pounds below this amount). Five pounds is regarded as a reasonable threshold to warrant refunds.

The school can ask for parental permission in advance of the journey to treat any surplus below a given sum as a contribution to school funds. This will ease the financial administration of the journey. Although there is no legal obligation upon the school to refund surpluses – where a voluntary contribution is requested – schools should not use journeys as a backdoor method of fund raising. Any refunds should be made as soon as possible after the visit, either to pupils or parents by cheque or cash against signed receipts.

 

Q: Should pecuniary interest forms be completed out by all staff or just finance staff?

A: All governors and staff should complete the school’s Register of Business Interests.  This register should be kept up-to-date and be freely available for inspection by governors, staff and parents.  For maintained schools, the guidance for local authority (LA) schemes for financing schools 2011-12 states that LA schemes should require schools’ governing bodies to have a Register of Business Interests.

 All business interests should be declared that could result in a conflict of interest:

  1. Financial - interests in a contract or proposed contract by direct or family connection.
  2. Appointment - interests in the provision for sponsor governors or interests in someone’s appointment, reappointment or suspension from office as a governor or clerk to the governing body.

3.   Pay and performance - interests in the pay or appraisal of someone working at the school in cases where the governor or staff member is also paid to work at the school. 

Register of Pecuniary Interests - Guidance from Internal Audit

 

Q: How do I know which items the school can reclaim VAT?

A: Advice is available on the Grid at:

 

Q: How long should financial and HR information be retained for?

A: This is set out in section 4.12 of the Financial Handbook for Schools