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Education


Devon Audit Partnership (DAP) provides professional services and we distinguish ourselves through our detailed understanding and appreciation of the challenges facing our clients today. We provide a high quality, professional and valued service to both Maintained and Academy school customers, bringing added value to clients and stakeholders. We are dedicated to maintaining and strengthening our position as a leader in providing quality internal audit services and assurance to schools, governors, staff and pupils, through a staff of highly experienced and enthusiastic people, sharing a tradition of integrity and rigorous service to our clients.

We can offer our full range of services to the education section including:

  • Internal audit
  • Risk management
  • Consultancy
  • Information systems assurance
  • Cyber security
  • Counter fraud services
  • Governance reviews

Our team of dedicated schools auditors who have a wide experience in auditing schools and colleges. We are fully committed to supporting both schools and staff. Over many years we have improved our service delivery and, more importantly, the schools achievement of a sound framework of control for the benefit of pupils, staff and governors.

We are flexible in the services we offer, and our delivery, to meet the needs of your School and we will develop our services with you. We would propose a full and open discussion with the school’s Governors and Senior Management to agree their needs. As a not-for-profit organisation we offer a very cost effective service which is evident through the high level of customer satisfaction we receive and schools buying our academy services.

Services for academy schools

The core options for audit include:

  • Internal Audit duties – following the requirements of the Academies Financial Handbook September 2013 from which our internal audit service will provide independent assurance to the Audit Committee on the financial controls, systems, transactions and risks
  • Responsible Officer assurance – compliance audits to support the discharge of their duties
  • full risk based audit coverage over a period (annual to triennial) to suit the schools need
  • facilitated production of a risk management process and register
  • support and review of your Academies Financial Management & Governance Return
  • start-up audit to provide assurance on new  governance arrangements and  policy, and to review new key financial systems for example finance and payroll including assurance on data transfer and for continuity of provision
  • support for the Audit Committee
  • a wide range of additional services including risk management, governance, health-checks and training.

Services for local authority maintained schools

Your subscription will include:

  • Full Audit Review against minimum standards and best practice guidelines, once in every 3 years
  • Independent assurance on the requirements of the Schools Financial Value Standard
  • Optional mid term Health Check Audit
  • Day to day support – by phone, Email, Internet on financial standards, irregularities, risk management and financial control
  • Periodic Audit Bulletins – briefs on current key issues
  • Seminars – presentations via Learning Community groups (max 6 per year)
  • Presentation of full audit report to Governors (optional)
  • Follow-up review – where significant control issues have been identified
  • Specific specialist systems reviews (optional).

Financial requirements are set out in the School’s Funding Agreement and the Academies Financial Handbook. Our audit will be tailored to meet these requirements. To provide a more cost effective service we would recommend a three year audit contract but are equally happy to complete work on an annual or pay-as-you-go basis. Initially our wish would be to agree the audit need and most suitable service to meet the requirements of the governors, school, senior management and pupils.

Department for Education Financial Standards:

An integral part of the three year audit review is that we will provide assurance to each school on its current ability to meet the requirements of the School Financial Value Standard. The Standard is a mandatory requirement for local authority maintained schools. Governing bodies of maintained schools or management committees of pupil referral units have formal responsibility for the financial management of their schools, and so the Standard is primarily aimed at governors or management committees. The Department for Education (DfE) has provided resources for completing the self-assessment form, detailed guidance notes for each of the twenty three questions (SFVS: Support Notes) and standard forms such as the skills matrices for governors and staff (SFVS: Additional Resources).

Devon County Council maintained schools are required to complete or update their SFVS self-assessment and submit a copy signed by the Chair of Governors to Devon Audit Partnership, on behalf of the County Council, by 31 March each year. This will enable the Partnership to complete the annual assurance statement that has to be submitted to the DfE by 31 May each year.

The routine internal audit visit to a school includes a review of the latest submitted self- assessment. In supplementing the SFVS self-assessment, we have a control systems self-assessment for the core financial and administrative systems. This can be used by the School and Governors to support the SFVS self-assessment as required. If you require further information please email us at sfvs@devon.gov.uk if you have any questions.

DAP staff have many years’ experience of providing value adding assurance and consulting services to schools and other Public Sector bodies and we believe our clients are entitled to receive services of the highest quality. In accordance with the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards, our approach to audit is risk based and our assurance covers not only financial systems and controls but also governance and strategic planning.

The Department for Education (DfE) provides resources for completing the self-assessment form, detailed guidance notes for each of the twenty three questions and standard forms such as the skills matrices for governors and staff.

Your subscription will buy ‘our assurance’ where the school:

  • meet your Governors requirements
  • meet the Department for Education ‘Schools Financial Value Standard’ requirements
  • maintain Schools and Local Authority minimum standards
  • comply with Local Authority Financial Regulations
  • meet the Audit Commission ‘Keeping your Balance’ guidance
  • legal requirements of key financial systems reviewed are being met

Your full audit will provide benefits for Governors:

  • Confidence the school is operating soundly
  • Confidence that your responsibilities are being met
  • Understand the risks of school practices
  • Assurance that the legal requirements of key financial systems reviewed are being met

Benefits for staff:

  • Assurance on working practices and controls
  • Peace of mind
  • Share the good experiences from other schools
  • Understand the risks and benefits of systems and their controls

Benefits for the school:

  • Improved systems and controls
  • Potential savings and efficiencies
  • Reduction in the levels of risk to which the School is exposed
  • Operate in line with accounting and other standards and best practice

Benefits for pupils and parents:

  • Safer environment for pupils and staff
  • Confidence that school resources are used efficiently and effectively
  • Confidence of pupil safety on off-site activities

Health check audit

The ‘Health Check Audit’ consists of an additional review midway between full audits and offers an opportunity to improve progress on systems and procedures, and includes an update on current developments, and needs of the school, through an interim review. Many schools find this invaluable for school improvement.

Other Services available to all…

Additional pay to use services

As an alternative to the annual subscription service, the Partnership also offers consultancy and other services to schools on an individually charged basis. These are available either as an integral part of the subscription (offering better value) or pay as you use.

The following are examples of services which are available. Charges are dependent on the complexity and scope of the work to be undertaken, whether auditors with specialised knowledge are required and the time required to complete the audit. Please contact us to discuss your requirements and to obtain a free estimate.

  • Consultancy and risk management
  • Partnership review
  • Catering review
  • Extended school services review
  • External funding review
  • Computer and Information Security Review
  • Health-check Audit
  • Fraud and irregularity investigations
  • Financial Audit of Voluntary funds
  • Presentation of audit report to Governors

The subscription contract period provides the best value option for Schools and runs for three years. This includes a full audit review, booked in advance at a time which is convenient for the School. In addition, as part of the subscription package schools will receive ongoing support throughout the whole contract period. Pay as you use services will be provided at a time to suit the school.

Methods of delivery

Our full audit will be provided at the school by fully trained and experienced staff committed to providing a value added service, working with and alongside staff of the school. We utilise tailored self-assessments for the school to complete prior to the audit and at their convenience. This allows greater understanding and more in-depth and focused coverage during the audit of areas identified as higher risk. The main systems self-assessment is designed to include all key systems and processes including those referred to by the Department for Education’s ‘Schools Financial Value Standard’. Our work is completed using a modern audit management software system for increased efficiency. Correspondence and document exchange with the School such as reports and self-assessment questionnaires will be by email, supporting e-government initiatives. We offer a wide range of specialised internet based support complemented by a periodic audit bulletin, email and 9am to 5pm telephone support.

Entitlement of each user

The entitlement of each service user shall be the provision by DAP of a satisfactory level of service (as described in the service specification) at all times as agreed by this agreement or individual negotiations. Each customer shall at all times be treated with respect and should there be any issues or concerns with regard to any aspect of the service provided these shall be dealt with in a courteous, efficient and timely manner in accordance with our customer care policy.

Other terms and conditions

By accepting this agreement you are committing to a contract period of three years. Our aim is to provide a continuous service that adds value by assisting the School in maintaining or achieving high standards. Local Authority Maintained Schools are required to appoint Internal Auditors at at least the Minimum Standards of the Scheme of Delegation if not buying our services.

Charges

The services offered by Devon Audit Partnership are on an annual subscription basis, for a contract period of three years. Charges are usually applied via the Local Authorities internal recharge mechanism. Charges are detailed in our charging schedule. Discounts are available to Federations dependent on the number of schools and budget arrangements. As a not for profit organisation we are committed to affordability. Where price increases are necessary these will be kept to a minimum and notified annually through the charging schedule.

Further information

Our service conditions for academy schools are the same as local authority schools and will be confirmed in a service contract with you. For further information contact David Curnow, Deputy Head of Partnership on 01392 382586 between 9am and 5pm.

Useful links:

  • SCOMIS provides ICT support to over 550 educational establishments throughout the South West.
  • HR ONE provides a comprehensive and integrated suite of services for employees, managers and employers.
  • Babcock LDP is part of the UK’s leading education support and improvement service.
  • Government GDPR Toolkit
  • Government advice on Privacy Notices

Our clients say:

We found the process to be supportive, incisive and professional – our auditor was super and gave useful advice as well as analysing our performance across the criteria, a week after an Ofsted, this was appreciated! The audit added value in that we were able to further strengthen our systems. It was a very fair and informative audit process.

Have a question? Get in touch

We are a people based service that prides itself on our ability to listen to and engage with our clients. We offer a wide range of options for you to be able to contact the most relevant person to meet your needs.

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