From education to employment

Better financial reporting for academy trusts

DfE launches a new academies chart of accounts as the first step to automated financial reporting. 

Adopting the academies chart of accounts is voluntary, however, adopting the academies chart of accounts is an essential building block for better financial reporting.

The new academies chart of accounts is DfE’s standard for financial data that underpins the academies accounts return and budget forecast returns.

Academy trusts that choose to adopt the standard will benefit from potential automated data transfer from their finance system to ESFA for financial returns relating to the 2019/20 financial year.

An additional benefit is that DfE can provide richer and more accurate financial benchmarking information allowing academies to compare their finances with other similar academies with greater confidence.

Lord Agnew, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System said:

“Our better financial reporting programme is a great step forward in our work to improve efficiency in schools. We have recognised that the current system of submitting financial data to the department is time consuming and offers insufficient benefit to academy trusts.

“By having a standard chart of accounts, we create the essential building blocks for the new system as it provides a consistent way of recording financial data for all academy trusts. This will allow us to reduce the burden on trusts through the electronic submission of financial data directly from finance systems and adding greater value to trusts by enabling us to create new financial efficiency tools as well as improve the timeliness and quality of the existing tools.”

Adopting the new chart of accounts will require an investment of time and effort from trusts but this will lead to significant future benefits. For example, around 65% of the accounts return comes from data within a trial balance. Being able to have that data pre-populated will be extremely helpful to trusts.

Trusts can view the academies chart of accounts below and a guide to adopting the new standard.

Financial data structure and guide for academy trust financial returns.


Academies chart of accounts

MS Excel Spreadsheet, 350KB

This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request an accessible format.

If you use assistive technology (such as a screen reader) and need aversion of this document in a more accessible format, please email [email protected].Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.

Guide to adopting the academies chart of accounts



This page includes:

  • a spreadsheet with the academies chart of accounts (please refer to the ‘information’ worksheet for more information about the structure of the chart of accounts)
  • a guide for academy trusts about adopting the academies chart of accounts

Related Articles