Governing bodies are required to supply upon request and within a reasonable timescale, all financial and other information including the specific requirements outlined throughout this document, which might reasonably be required to enable the Authority or, its auditors to satisfy itself as to the school’s management of its delegated budget share, or the use made of any central expenditure by the Authority (e.g. earmarked funds) on the school.
Under the terms of s.50 (7) of the Act, and the governing body being a corporate body, governors of maintained schools will not incur personal liability in the exercise of their power to spend the delegated budget share provided they act reasonably in good faith.
Under schedule 50(5) of the Act, only allowances in respect of purposes specified in regulations may be paid to governors from a school’s delegated budget share.
Payment of any other allowances is forbidden. Schools are also barred from payment of expenses which duplicate those paid by the Secretary of State to additional governors appointed by him to schools under special measures.
The authority may delegate to the governing body of a school yet to receive a delegated budget, funds to meet governors’ expenses. Governing bodies would not normally have discretion in the amounts of such allowances, which would be set by the authority.
Where the governing body fails to act in accordance with the advice of the Authority, then the Authority is authorised to charge school’s budget shares for appropriate legal costs incurred by the school’s governing body. The Authority will wherever possible discuss in advance with schools its intention to make such a charge, and may in exceptional circumstances, following consultation with schools, waiver this right. The costs referred to are those of legal actions, including costs awarded against the authority, not the cost of legal advice provided.
The Head of Legal Services will issue from time to time guidance to schools about procedures for obtaining legal advice, including circumstances where there is a conflict of interest between the governing body and the Authority.
The Authority, governors, senior managers and all employees have general duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Those duties are underpinned by more specific requirements set out in regulations or other legislation. In expending the school’s budget share, governing bodies are required to give due regard to the requirements as specified in the aforementioned as well as those incorporated in Authority policy and other guidelines issued by the Authority that are deemed to be applicable to schools.
Governing bodies are required to permit the Chief Finance Officer or any person nominated by the Chief Finance Officer to attend meetings of the governing body at which any agenda items are relevant to the exercise of her or his responsibilities. To facilitate this, the Authority will, unless this is impracticable, give prior notice of its intention to attend, and the governing body will supply upon request advance details including appropriate documentation of specific items to be discussed at such meetings.
Relevant items are those relating to financial probity, or overall financial management of the Authority. Schools will always advise the Chief Finance Officer if the Governing Body is considering a probity matter where there is an allegation of fraud or irregularity in the use of delegated or devolved funds.
Schools are required to use their best endeavours in spending the budget share, to secure the special educational needs of their pupils. If the LA is advised that this is not being achieved it may need to suspend delegation where a situation is serious enough to warrant it.
Schools are reminded that the terms of the scheme cannot affect statutory requirements. The Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998 requires debts to suppliers to be paid within 30 days of receiving the goods/services, or receiving the invoice (whichever is the later). The supplier must receive a cheque or cleared funds by the 30th day. Suppliers are entitled to charge interest at Bank of England Base rate plus 8% on late payments, as well as reasonable debt recovery costs.
The purpose of the whistleblowing policy is to encourage all staff to feel confident in raising serious concerns, to question and act upon concerns about practice; to provide a method of raising concerns and receiving feedback on any action taken; to ensure that a response to concerns is received and to reassure staff that you will be protected from reprisals or victimisation for whistleblowing in good faith. This scheme should be followed by persons working at a school or school governors who wish to complain about financial management or financial propriety at the school.
As a first step, concerns should normally be raised with your immediate manager or Chair of the Board of Governors. This depends, however, on the seriousness and sensitivity of the issues involved and who is thought to be involved in the malpractice. If you need advice and guidance on how matters of concern may be pursued the Chief Auditor at Reading BC should be contacted.
Schools must release staff to attend child protection case conferences and other related events.
The 2002 Education Act sets out how premature retirement and redundancy costs should normally be funded. Reading has its own local arrangements and it is expected that schools will normally meet all redundancy/early retirement costs from their delegated budgets, unless there are exceptional circumstances.
Annex D sets out the statutory guidance on the funding of premature retirement and redundancy costs.