1. Education Act 1998: Section 18 (sub-section 1) says “... a board shall keep all proper and usual accounts and records of all monies received by it or expenditure of such monies incurred by it and shall ensure that in each year all such accounts are properly audited or certified in accordance with best accounting practice.”
2. Catholic Primary Schools Management Association (September 2010 Newsletter):
"Boards of Management are required, under the Education Act 1998, to keep accounts of income and expenditure. A financial report should be prepared annually. The accounts should be properly audited or certified in accordance with best accounting practice on a yearly basis. There is no strict definition of the term “certified” but it suggests that a suitably qualified accountant is satisfied that the accounts are both properly presented and accurately reflect the underlying records. An “Accountant’s Report” appended to the accounts would typically place responsibility for the completeness and accuracy of the underlying records on the Board of Management.
It may be the wish of certain Boards however, to commission a full audit of the financial statements for both their own comfort and for full transparency although the cost involved would normally be greater than that of “certification”.
The accounts should be certified or audited by an accountant who is independent of the BoM and who has the appropriate qualifications and professional indemnification. Three copies of the certified/audited accounts should be made – one for the BoM, one for the Patron, one for the accountant. The report should be available if requested for inspection by parents, Patron, Trustees, DES."
This advice is similar to that given by the other patron groups such as the Church of Ireland Board of Education, An Foras Pátrúnachta, Educate Together Ltd., etc.
In the case of secondary schools a further copy would be produced for forwarding on to the Financial Services Support Unit (FSSU)
Why Upper Third Chartered Accountants?
1. We are a firm of Chartered Accountants authorised by the Chartered Accountants Regulatory Board and thus appropriately qualified.
2. Primary school accounts are one of our specialist areas and this allows us to uniquely advise our primary school clients.
3. We carry our own Professional Indemnity Insurance.
4. Our fees are very competitive.
5. We can also provide further services such as budgeting, cashflow statements, and payroll maintenance at competitive rates. We can also provide RCT and VAT compliance services.
We only have our accounts certified when we have a Whole School Evaluation. What’s wrong with that?
1. The Board of Management are in breach of the Education Act 1998. Preparing and certifying school accounts on an annual basis is not an option; it is a duty imposed by the Act.
2. The school may be subject to an audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General. If accounts have not been properly certified then the Board of Management leaves itself open to dissolution and would most likely be publicly named in a subsequent report.
What if we are having a Whole School Evaluation?
Again Section 18 of the Education Act 1998 applies and in sub-section 2 states “Accounts kept in pursuance of this section shall be made available by the school concerned for inspection by the Minister and by parents of students in the school... .
Why not audit?
An audit is an appropriate process for larger organisations. Companies do not normally have to be audited where their turnover is under €7,500,000. Most primary schools have a turnover substantially underneath this level. In addition the Education Act 1998 allows Boards of Management to choose for themselves as to whether or not an audit is appropriate.
We certify accounts as being in agreement with the underlying books and records. In an audit situation a further examination is undertaken to ascertain as to whether those books and records are correct. This increases the risk factor and the workload for the accountant carrying out this assignment and therefore higher fees are charged. An audit should normally be considered in situations where the Board of Management suspect that the books of account are not being properly prepared or where fraud or dishonesty is perceived to be a risk. Some patrons now require that accounts are audited at the conclusion of the term of the Board of Management (i.e. every fourth year).
A parent of one of the children in our school works as an accountant. He will do the job for nothing/half your fee. Why would we use your services?
1. We are authorised by the Chartered Accountants Regulatory Board, a body recognised by the Irish Auditing and Accountancy Supervisory Body, to practice as public accountants in Ireland. A copy of our practice cert is available on application.
2. We are fully indemnified and a copy of our Professional Indemnity Insurance certificate is available on application.
3. We are independent of the Board of Management.
4. All our accounts are completed in accordance with best accounting practice.
So we are required to prepare accounts and have them certified under the Education Act 1998. Is there anything else we should be doing?
Yes. Boards of Management are required to prepare budgets under the Constitution of Boards and Rules of Procedure (as published by the Department of Education). Upper Third Chartered Accountants can assist with this process by preparing a draft budget based on the previous year’s spending patterns and amending it on the basis of input from the Board of Management. This would be the subject of a separate fee to be agreed prior to commencement of the budget.
Where can I independently verify the information in this post?
Try the following website links:
www.irishstatutebook.ie for the Education Act 1998.
www.carb.ie is the website of the Chartered Accountants Regulatory Board.
www.education.ie is the website of the Department of Education.
www.cpsma.ie is the website of the Catholic Primary School Managers Association.
http://www.jmb.ie/school-finance is the website of the Financial Services Support Unit.
Our practice certificate and professional indemnity insurance certificate is available at www.upperthird.ie/about us