Academies Update Conference

Designed for firms who advise academy clients, do not miss your opportunity to hear the latest position for the sector at our one-day conference. Our conferences will cover up-to-date accounting and financial reporting regimes, as well as regulatory responsibilities, putting you in the best position to help meet your clients’ challenges, and add value to your client relationships.

Programme correct at the time of publication. Mercia Group reserve the right to change the programme and speakers as a result of circumstances beyond our control.

Who should attend the conference

Mercia's Academies Update Conference is a must-attend event for any accountancy firms who advises Academies.

Through this one-day virtual conference, you will get practical advice about all the latest changes and challenges currently facing Academies. Hear from financial experts and Academy leaders on how you can add value to your clients.



Loading events...

Full conference agenda

Simon Oxenham, Southend High School For Boys

This session will cover:

  • A brief history of the latest school’s funding crisis
  • Essential pillars for future funding policy for trust clients
  • Thoughts on planning in turbulent times for trust clients
  • Other useful sector updates

Mark Blois, Browne Jacobson

Mark will give a review of developments in the academies sector including recent practical experiences of acting for and advising growing trusts.

Jon Sparkes, Bishop Fleming

This session will cover:

  • Recap on tax exemptions for academies
  • Tax issues when looking to diversify income
  • Case studies
  • Managing tax efficiency of trading subsidiaries

Adrian Loughlin & Craig Alexander, Hymans Robertson

This session will cover;

  • FRS102 assumptions - methodology and impact
  • Outlook for 31 August 2023 year-end – indicative results commentary for the average employer based on current markets
  • Audit hot topics - including life expectancy and inflation

Louise Molnar, ESFA

ESFA will provide an update on developments to the academy financial framework and reporting requirements, along with feedback from its latest assurance

Chris Whiting, Academy Advisory

An overview of current key risks facing academy trusts and their approach to risk management and internal assurance.  This session will include a review of internal audit and risk management requirements as set out in the Academy Trust Handbook as well as discussing what constitutes appropriate and compliant internal audit activity and reporting.

David Smith

In this session David will focus on academy audits through the lens of the revised ISA 315 looking at ways auditors can leverage their enhanced understanding of controls and IT to create an efficient and focussed approach that adds value to their clients.

David Smith

In this session David will run through the practical implications of recent changes to reporting and regulatory requirements, addressing hot topics for academy trust accountants and auditors.

Conference speakers

Simon Oxenham

Simon is the Director of Resources for Southend High School for Boys in Essex and the National Association of School Business Management (NASBM) national lead on school finance. As a qualified accountant and project manager, he spent a number of years working in the charity sector and a lot of his career working on finance system-related projects.

Simon also worked in one of the largest FE colleges in the country so has knowledge of both charity and education accounting. Simon is well known across the sector having delivered numerous training sessions and presentations with the Education Funding Authority (EFA), and, on behalf of NASBM. He is also a member of one of the EFA’s Financial Assurance working groups.

Mark Blois

Mark is National Head of the Education team at Browne Jacobson and personally has over 25 years’ experience as an education lawyer. He is recommended as a Leader in his field in the industry bibles ‘Chambers UK’ and ‘Legal 500’. ‘Chambers UK’ has dubbed him “an industry leader” and ‘Legal 500’ has described him as “exceptional” and has included him in their “Hall of Fame”, which highlights to clients the law firm partners who are ‘at the pinnacle of the profession’.

In 2022 Mark was named in The Lawyer’s ‘Hot 100’ listing for 2022 which identifies 100 legal professionals selected by The Lawyer as having met their criteria for excellence and relevance. Mark also has over twenty years’ experience of being involved in governance roles across the education sector. In particular between 2011 – 2021 Mark was the Chair of the L.E.A.D Academy Trust, a twenty-five school multi-academy trust and Mark is currently designated a National Leader of Governance by the Department for Education.


Jon is a Chartered Accountant and Chartered Tax Adviser with more than 25 years experience. During his career he spent 9 years with a ‘Big 4’ firm during which he was part of their Charities Network advising a range of national and international charities and not-for-profit organisations. He now leads Bishop Fleming’s charity tax services working with their clients on tax issues such as non-primary purpose trading, setting up trading subsidiaries and Gift Aid. He has experience of working with a wide range of charitable sub-sectors including higher and further education, academy schools, independent schools, social housing, visitor attractions, hospices, sports and wellbeing organisations, the creative industries, charitable foundations and membership organisations.


Adrian Loughlin

Adrian is a Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries within the Hymans Robertson’s public sector team, advising Local Government Pension Schemes and employers across the UK. He is one of the actuarial leads in the public sector accounting team responsible for delivering over 4,000 annual IAS19 reports for local authorities and FRS102 disclosures for academies. Within his role Adrian speaks to stakeholders across the sector including employers, auditors and the NAO on methodology and ongoing audit issues.

Craig is a Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries and has been with Hymans Robertson’s public sector team since 2009, advising Local Government Pension Schemes and employers across the UK. He leads the public sector accounting team responsible for delivering August FRS102 figures to academies, manages relationships with the national audit bodies and has also worked closely with the ESFA to help improve the accounts returns process


Louise is a Financial Frameworks Manager for the ESFA and leads on the development of the Academies Accounts Direction and its supporting documents. Louise also leads the development of the academy trust good practice guides on financial management and governance. Prior to joining the ESFA in 2020, she worked latterly as a school business manager in an academy trust, having previously spent 27 years working in public sector finance.


Chris Whiting

Chris Whiting is the managing director of Academy Advisory and has previously held CFO positions for a number of academy trusts.

Academy Advisory is a specialist provider of internal audit and consultancy services to the academy sector with over 300 academies nationwide with services covering all aspects of academy trust operations, including areas such as: educational improvement, safeguarding, finance, HR, ICT, estates, and governance. Chris has worked closely with the DfE and the ESFA on a number of engagements including anti-fraud response and academy turnaround in addition to his work as an internal auditor.

David Smith

David spent 10 years at Mercia where he lectured, performed quality review and consultation services, developed their academies specialist assignment manual and training resources and acted as Director of Assurance and Accounting Content between 2018 and 2020.

In September 2020 David became Audit Quality and Technical Director at Azets and an independent lecturer. David plays an active role with committees and working groups at ICAEW and ESFA and is a member of the ICAEW’s Technical and Practical Auditing Committee and the ESFA’s working group responsible for the development of the Academies Accounts Direction.

One Day Conference
Group of people sat in a room watching a man present stood up

Previous Academies Update Conferences

Explore the programme of our previous Academies Update Conferences:

2022 Academies Update Conference