Academies Conference 2020

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 virtual conference 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.


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Full conference agenda


Simon Oxenham

In this session Simon will walk through the impact that COVID-19 is having at academy trusts and the financial implications for academy trusts as they navigate towards a new normal.


Adrian Shardlow

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


Chris Whiting

With changes to the FRC Ethical Standard placing outright prohibitions on external auditors performing internal audit work, Chris will look at what best practice for internal scrutiny at an academy trust looks like nowadays, providing insights from his work providing internal audit services to trusts of all shapes and sizes.


Craig Alexander or Steven Law

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

In this session, Neil will look at a case study covering ongoing areas of difficulty and specific areas of topical interest with VAT at academy trusts.


Martin Cichocki

This session from the Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) will give an update on information needed from academy trusts in 2020 and discuss other hot topics including outcomes from the 2019 audit season and other relevant ESFA publications and activities.


Stephen Morales

Integrated curriculum and financial planning (ICFP) is a management process that helps schools plan the best curriculum for their pupils with the funding they have available.  Stephen will provide an overview of ICFP processes used by academy trusts when reviewing their curriculum and financial strategy.


David Smith

In this session, David will provide commentary and guidance on current issues in the world of academy trust financial reporting, audit and regularity reporting before wrapping up the conference for the day.

Conference speakers


Adrian is a Partner at Browne Jacobson. He specialises in all areas of education law including advisory work, public law, admissions, special needs and setting up academies under the Academies Act 2010. Adrian has been involved in many academy conversions involving all types of schools and 6th form colleges. He has particular expertise in dealing with sponsors and multi-academy trusts and is involved with many mergers, expansions and transfers between MATs.


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.


Neil Owen is an independent consultant, speaker and occasional writer.  He has worked exclusively in VAT for thirty-five years, initially working for Customs & Excise and entering professional practice in 1990.  A Fellow of the CIOT and an Associate of the Institute of Indirect Taxation, he is also a Fellow of the British Institute of Agricultural Consultants.  He was for ten years the National Secretary of the VAT Practitioners Group and for six the editor of the book, CCH VAT Planning.  Neil is an experienced and enthusiastic lecturer, with the unusual reputation for making VAT interesting.


David Smith is Director of Assurance and Accounting Content at Mercia incorporating SWAT.

Since joining Mercia from Grant Thornton in 2010, David has been editor of the Mercia Audit and Audit Exemption Manuals, authored our Assurance and Academies Specialist Assignment Manuals and developed our New UK GAAP accounts and disclosure checklists.  Nowadays, David spends much of his time lecturing on Mercia’s face-to-face, in-house and online CPD courses as well as providing technical consultancy and quality review services.  In July 2018, David became a director of Mercia incorporating SWAT, responsible for ensuring that Mercia and SWAT assurance and accountancy content provides innovative, relevant, accurate and practical solutions to accountants in practice.

David plays an active role with various committees and working groups at ICAEW and ESFA and is a member of the ICAEW’s Technical and Practical Auditing Committee.


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 IAS19 reports for local authorities and August FRS102 figures to academies. He has also worked closely with the Education and Skills Funding Agency to help improve the accounts returns process for academies and their auditors.


Martin joined the Education and Skills Funding Agency in January 2020 and is responsible for the drafting of the Academies Accounts Direction. Having started his career in a “Big 4” firm Martin has several years of experience working in both audit and financial accounting roles in the public sector, with his previous role being as Senior Financial Accountant in the Valuation Office Agency.


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.


Stephen has a 20-year career history in operations and finance, working at a senior level in the public and private sectors, both in the UK and abroad.

Stephen presided over the development and implementation of nationally recognised school business leadership professional standards and led the transition from the National Association of School Business Management to the Institute of School Business Leadership.

Stephen works closely with the Department for Education in areas of policy reform, and his commitment to research to aid our self-improving system includes ongoing engagement with international jurisdictions including Australia, Europe, the Middle East and the US.

One Day Conference