Academies and Further Education

Our specialist education team provides comprehensive support and solutions, plus acts as a sounding board, understanding future plans and identifying areas before they become an issue.

Academies and Schools

Our dedicated academies team is here to support you, share their understanding and sector knowledge, and tailor a service that works for you. Whether you are considering converting to academy status, or are already up and running, MHA Tait Walker can guide you through the whole process.

The prospect of converting to academy status is very attractive for many schools. However, many governors, head teachers and school business managers are unsure of the financial implications and challenges that may arise when operating independently of the local authority. Our team understand that the support you need from your accountant is not just about ticking compliance boxes; we are on hand to assist you throughout the academic year, offering proactive and friendly advice.

We are members of the MHA association, acting for over 190 academies as a group across the UK.

We believe in building relationships, not only with our clients but also with other professional service providers. We work closely with North East lawyers and banks, and regularly engage with the Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).

Multi-academy trusts

If you are considering converting to academy status, or have already converted but want to become part of a bigger chain, you may be considering a multi-academy trust (MAT).

We are one of the region’s leading advisers to multi-academy trusts, looking after a number of MATs with upwards of 25 schools within the MAT. We have advised MATs from initial set-up to ongoing advice as their auditors and trusted advisers, providing valuable support and ensuring academy trusts meet specific MAT reporting requirements and standards.

How we can help

  • Conversion support, from creation of the academy trust to set up of financial policies and procedures
  • Accounts preparation in compliance with the Charities SORP, Companies Act 2006, funding agreement with the DfE and the Academy Accounts Direction
  • Statutory audit of accounts
  • Regularity audit report
  • Preparation of the ESFA Annual Accounts Return
  • Assurance report on the ESFA Annual Accounts Return
  • Audit of the Teachers’ Pension Contributions End of Year Certificate
  • Preparation of FRS 102 pension journal and disclosures
  • Internal assurance services
  • Support and advice for the Accounting Officer
  • Production of management accounts
  • Budget setting and financial planning
  • Review of financial policies and procedures
  • Governance reviews
  • Governor training on their roles as a trustee and director
  • Taxation and VAT advice on trading activity
  • PAYE Healthcheck on benefits and dispensations
  • Payroll Services
  • Company Secretarial services and assistance with Companies House filing

Further Education Colleges

Our specialist accounting, business advisory and tax services for the further education sector include:

  • Strategy and funding reviews
  • Capital project review and appraisal
  • External audit
  • Corporation tax & VAT compliance
  • Mergers & acquisitions advice

We host regular workshops and training sessions for finance staff and trustees, and also produce publications and insights highlighting important topical issues.

Our Team

Brian Laidlaw

Brian joined MHA Tait Walker Business Services in 1997 and became a partner of the firm in 2008. Brian is heavily involved in the Education sector and looks after his clients financial and regulatory needs, including reporting, accounting, and audit and assurance. Brian also has a portfolio of corporate business clients which he believes gives him the opportunity to transfer his skills and knowledge gained from both sectors to his clients advantage.

Claire Hinshaw

Claire has a breadth of experience spanning 25 years, qualifying as an ACCA in 1999. Claire has extensive experience working with a large client base from sole traders to large corporate entities including pension schemes, manufacturing, retail, charitable and higher education organisations. Claire recently graduated from the Common Purpose Meridian Programme.

Marc Breeze

Marc works alongside Brian in our Academies team. He is a qualified accountant and joined MHA Tait Walker’s Business Services as a graduate trainee in 2012. Marc has extensive experience of auditing and advising clients in the Education and Not for Profit sectors.