Information for academy trusts to complete their accounts return.

Accessing the accounts return form

The academies accounts return (AR) is now only available to view existing information, and the AR for 2019/2020 will be available for input from October 2020. You can also view your 2018/2019 AR submission.

Academies accounts return 2019/2020 – counterparty data collection

The AR 2019/2020 is currently scheduled for academy trusts to complete and submit by January 2021. As in previous years there are a number of amendments to the form, mainly to cover any new reporting requirements and also to improve the user experience. In particular, there is one specific change we would like to make the sector aware of in relation to the collection of counterparty data.

As part of our ongoing efforts to reduce reporting burdens on the sector, we have agreed with HM Treasury that we will no longer be required to collect most of the counterparty data previously required in the AR. A small element of the counterparty section of the AR will remain to allow us to eliminate transactions within the academy sector.

Transactions and balances (income, expenditure, debtors, creditors, other) with other academy trusts are still to be reported under a single counterparty, CAD022 Academies, aggregating the sum of all balances with other academy trusts. All other counterparty reporting will not be required in the AR 2019/2020.

2018/2019 accounts return

The guidance for completing the online form is in HTML format. Please use this link to access the guidance for completing the AR return.

Guidance for using the accounts return online form

Below, the previous years documents for accounting year 2018/2019 are available for closed and transferred trusts to complete and to help users prepare their AR, as well as to show in detail how the validations work. Updated versions for the 2019/2020 accounting year will be available prior to the 2019/2020 AR being available for input.

Academies accounts return 2018/2019: Excel workbook


Academies accounts return - validation and help text 2018/2019

MS Excel Spreadsheet, 239KB

The academies chart of accounts may also help trusts to complete the AR.

Closed and transferred trusts

Academy trusts that cease operating or transfer to a new trust between 1 September 2019 and 31 August 2020 must submit a final accounts return. You may prepare it with this Academies accounts return 2018/2019: Excel workbook (XLSM, 8.9MB).

Your auditors must sign off your return and it must reflect transferring/closing balance of the trust. This can be completed whilst preparing the final financial statements for the trust. If your trust is due to cease operating or transfer, please contact us via the enquiry form and we will provide further details.

Pension guidance

We published a guide to the pension section of the AR 2018/2019, although this was for the last AR this will still be applicable for the 2019/2020 return. This will help users accurately complete the AR pension section, as well as provide details for how the McCloud and GMP Equalisation Judgement should be treated in your AR this year.

Guide to pensions section of the academies accounts return 2018/2019

PDF, 766KB, 24 pages

We have also mapped the 4 actuarial reports of AON, Barnett Waddingham, Hymans Robertson and Mercer to the accounts return online form using the form’s new referencing. These example reports have been annotated by the accounts return team to show the translation to your final pension actuarial statement. This should help you complete your balance sheet funds and disclosure tab-pension information section of the accounts return.

Why do we collect the accounts return from academy trusts?

ESFA requires all academy trusts preparing financial statements as at 31 August each year and/or with open academies as at 31 August in that year to submit an accounts return for the same year.

DfE uses the information provided in the accounts return to prepare the academies consolidated annual report and accounts, which consolidates the accounts of nearly 3,000 individual academy trusts to reflect the financial performance of the whole academy sector. It is prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (as amended for the public sector context) described in HMT’s financial reporting manual (FReM).

We ask academy trusts to complete the accounts return because DfE requires full accounting information. Individual trust financial statements do not provide the necessary information consistently and in accordance with the FReM to enable DfE to prepare the academies consolidated annual report and accounts.

Links to other content

These links are for other academy financial returns:

Any queries about the accounts return

ESFA questions

If you have any questions about the accounts return, please contact us using our enquiry form.

Published 28 September 2017
Last updated 12 May 2020 + show all updates
  1. Landing page updated to include information about changes to the counterparty sections of the academies accounts return 2019/2020.

  2. The accounts return is now live, please log in and complete your return by the deadline 20 January 2020.

  3. We have updated the accounts return page for the latest guidance and updates for the upcoming return.

  4. We have added a document to the academies accounts return guidance page to help trusts and their auditors prepare for the accounts return later this year. The document provides details about the key differences between the trust’s financial statements and the accounts return. The deadline for the accounts return is Monday 20 January 2020.

  5. We've updated the Excel template for trusts that have ceased operating since September 2018.

  6. We have updated the excel workbook with a new version.

  7. We have updated the "Barnett Waddingham- Actuarial Result Schedule 2018" and the "List of trusts and academies included within the aggregated balance counterparty entry" documents.

  8. We've updated the dates for the skype call - the next call will be on 3 December 2018 between 13:00 and 14:00.

  9. We've added details on how to contact us via webchat and updated the skype contact details.

  10. We've added a new version of the Excel workbook for users.

  11. Page updated to reinstate the link to the online form for the academies accounts return.

  12. Please note: The online form for the academies accounts return is currently unavailable due to technical issues. We expect to restore the system by 10am on 31 October 2018

  13. Updated to include extra guidance on how translate a trust's pension statement into the accounts return. Also updated Excel workbook and details for the validation error mapping to the Excel workbook.

  14. Updated with a link to the accounts return online form which is now live for academy trusts to use to complete and submit their accounts return by 21 January 2019.

  15. We have published the accounts return online form guidance, the form will go-live in October and your external auditors must submit your return by 21 January 2019

  16. We have updated the accounts return page to include a new document that explains the differences between the preparation for the financial statements and that of the accounts return. We will update this page next in September 2018 with the detailed guidance for the accounts return.

  17. We have addded a guidance video to provide further details about the accounts return process

  18. Updated as the accounts return online form is now closed for the 2016 to 2017 collection. It'll re-open in October 2018 for the 2017 to 2018 collection with a deadline of the 21 January 2019.

  19. Updated to add the Accounts return 2017 to 2018 Excel workbook for academy trusts that close or transfer between 1 September 2017 and 31 August 2018.

  20. Updated with corrections to the Excel workbook and to add a new doument that provides a list of trusts and academies included within the aggregated balance counterparty entry.

  21. We've added a link to the most recent accounts return webinar.

  22. We've updated this page to include a link to the webinar broadcast on 9 November 2017 which introduces ESFA’s academies accounts return.

  23. Guidance updated (page 23, paragraph 103) to make clear that trusts should only use full time equivalents when calculating the staff gender analysis. Excel workbook updated following changes to the online form and some formula updates.

  24. Page updated to correct a formula in the Excel worksheet and to correct information about trustee remuneration on page 24 of the guide to completing the return.

  25. First published.