Agenda Item No. 6
THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (LIFELONG LEARNING): 8TH FEBRUARY, 2016
REFERENCE FROM AUDIT COMMITTEE: 16TH NOVEMBER, 2015
“581 ANNUAL REPORT ON SCHOOLS 2014/15 (HF/S151O) –
Committee received a copy of a report issued to the Director of Learning and Skills, summarising the findings made by the Internal Audit in relation to the school based audits conducted in the 2014/15 audit year.
On an annual basis, the Internal Audit Section visits a proportion of the Authority’s Primary, Secondary and Special Schools in order to carry out a pre-determined programme of work, with a view to giving the school, their Governing Body and the Authority assurance that controls were operating effectively.
In 2014/15, over £85m was delegated to the Authority’s Secondary, Primary and Special Schools.
During 2014/15 a total of 18 audit visits were conducted, 14 being planned visits, one being a follow up where the previous visit had identified controlled weaknesses and the remaining three visits were unplanned and made at the request of the Headteacher or Director. Details of the key findings made during these Audit visits were attached at Appendix A to the report.
In summary, 14 of the schools visited were graded as providing substantial or reasonable assurance (77%) whilst one was graded as limited assurance. The three unplanned visits were not assigned Audit opinions as they were in response to Audit advice being requested on specific matters.
Any recommendations made relating to Internal Audit’s findings had been presented in a report directly to the school and Governing Body concerned.
In order to ensure that Audit days available were used in the most effective way, changes would be made to the school audit programme for 2015/16 which would allow for more in-depth coverage of high risk areas. Therefore, a Control Risk Self-Assessment (CRSA) questionnaire would be issued to all schools annually which would enable schools to self-evaluate the controls they had in place to mitigate risk. The completed CRSA would be evaluated by Internal Audit and any issues would be addressed with the school. In addition a Headteacher Assurance Statement would be required which would provide assurance that the Headteacher was ensuring that a school had sufficient internal controls. A similar statement would also be sent to the Chair of Governors. The planned audit days for schools would then be used to undertake reviews of particular areas across schools such as safeguarding or procurement, or it would allow more in-depth reviews at individual schools based on a robust risk assessment which took into account senior management requirements.
In considering the Internal Audit’s Report, Committee noted the comments that, “From analysis it was identified that five primary / nursery schools had balances in excess of 10% of their budget share, the greatest of these being Ysgol Dewi Sant with a surplus of 40.3% of their budget which equated to £148,280. Within comprehensive / special schools none had a surplus balance greater than 10% although the highest value could be accredited to Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School with a surplus of 4.76% of their budget share (£230,765)”.
It was further noted that the relevant schools had completed a return to indicate their planned use of the balances. The Head of Service and the Finance Manager intended to meet with the Headteachers and Governors to challenge, where necessary, those schools which had carried forward balances for more than a year.
It was further noted that under the School Funding (Wales) Regulations 2010, excessive carried forward balances (greater than £50,000 or 5% for Primary Schools and £100,000 or 5% in Comprehensive / Special Schools) were liable for Clawback where the Governing Body failed to comply with a direction from the Local Authority on how balances should be spent.
As yet, no Clawback had been applied.
Members of the Committee felt that the issue of school balances should be drawn to the attention of Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning).
Having considered the report, it was
(1) T H A T the contents of the report be noted.
(2) T H A T the report be referred to Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) in order that the Scrutiny Committee could scrutinise the reasons for the size of the schools balances.
Reasons for decisions
(1) To keep the Audit Committee informed.
(2) In order that the Scrutiny Committee could scrutinise the reasons for the size of some of the schools’ balances.”
Attached as Appendix – Report to Audit Committee: 16th November, 2015