Academies Update Conference 2022

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.

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Full conference agenda


Simon Oxenham, Southend High School For Boys

Simon will update delegates on:

  • The challenges of this academic year
  • Any relevant funding updates from the DfE
  • The impact of COVID-19 on schools this year
  • Thoughts on budgets and forecast assumptions
  • Changes to look out for that might get missed

Mark Blois, Browne Jacobson LLP

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


Chris Whiting, Academy Advisory

Chris will provide an update on internal audits and will also consider the changing attitude towards internal audit within academy trusts.


Adrian Loughlin, Hymans Robertson

This session will cover current pension topics affecting academies, what this means to conversations you have with your clients, and what to look out for from an accounting perspective.


Neil Owen, VAT Advisory Services Limited

In this session Neil will focus on a handful of VAT issues that have been perennial areas of concern for academies, drawing on recent experience in encountering them in practice. 

This will include sporting facilities, nurseries, breakfast and after-school clubs, holiday clubs and the choice between VAT registration and making VAT126 claims.


Craig Alderson, ESFA

This session from the Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA)  will give an update on information needed from academy trusts in 2022 and discuss other hot topics including outcomes from the 2021 audit season and other relevant ESFA publications and activities.


David Smith

In this session, David will run through the practical implications of recent changes to the Accounts Direction and Academy Trust Handbook as well as provide an update on other guidance, publications and regulatory feedback relevant to the sector.


David Smith

David will take us through ways that audit engagements with academy trusts of different, and evolving, shapes and sizes can be structured and performed to ensure they stay profitable without stumbling on quality pitfalls.

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 Head of the Education team at Browne Jacobson and 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’.

Mark also has over 20 years’ experience of being involved in governance across the education sector and between 2011-2021 Mark was the Chair of the L.E.A.D Academy Trust, a 25 school multi-academy trust. Mark has been designated a National Leader of Governance by the Department for Education.


Chris Whiting

Chris is a Certified Chartered Accountant who has specialised in the education sector over the past 15 years, working as a finance director within multi-academy trusts and as an advisor to the sector.

Chris formed Academy Advisory in 2014 to provide a range of services to the academy sector including: audit, assurance, consultancy, finance support and finance director services. Chris is responsible for over 70 academy audits in addition to his work as a finance director and advisor to a broad range of single and multi-academy trusts.


Adrian Loughlin

Adrian is an Associate Actuarial Consultant 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.


Neil Owen

Neil Owen is an independent consultant and speaker. He has specialised exclusively in VAT for nearly forty years, initially working for Customs & Excise, entering the professional world in 1990 and setting up his own practice, VAT Advisory Services Ltd, in 2007. He is the only indirect tax practitioner to be a Fellow of both the CIOT and the BIAC, and has extensive experience of advising on VAT matters in the agricultural and landowning sector. 


Craig Alderson

Speaker details coming soon


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 development of the Academies Accounts Direction.

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