Accounts delayed as trust calls in forensic auditors

A multi-academy trust has had to delay publishing its accounts and bring in “forensic” auditors after its expansion to take on struggling schools “raised some question marks”.

All academy trusts are supposed to publish their accounts online by today, January 31, but Astrea Academy Trust has said it will not meet this deadline after having to bring in specialists to audit its accounts.

Astrea expanded this year to run a total of 20 schools, including taking on two schools from the failed Wakefield City Academies Trust.

A spokesperson for Astrea said the trust was “financially robust and sustainable”, but the “transactional complexities involved” in its expansion required it to “scrutinise our balance sheet and our accounts management in far more detail than the standard due diligence.”

“This process has raised some question marks in the finalisation of the statutory accounts,” she said.

“We will not, therefore, be publishing our end of year accounts by 31 January as there is some detailed and technical reconciliation to be done on the acquired schools. So much so that we have requested that our auditors bring in their forensic team to carry out a more detailed review.”

She added that once the process has been completed the accounts would be published in the usual way.

WCAT announced in September 2017 that it would give up all 21 of its schools because it lacked “the capacity to facilitate the rapid improvement our academies need and our students deserve”.

Astrea took on two of its Doncaster academies, Waverley Academy and Balby Carr Community Academy – now known as Astrea Academy Woodfields.