7. Tracy Jackson, Finance Business Consultant for the Academy Sector

Reading Time: 2 minutes

On this episode of Developing the Trust, the podcast dedicated to the schools academy sector, Tim Warneford is in a school in Batley to speak to Tracy Jackson, finance business consultant, about her experience of many conversions.


On this episode we cover:


What brought Tracy into the academy sector

Starting as a trainee accounting technician

Working in the internal audit department with schools and education

Moving to a local high school as bursar (when 8 months pregnant with twins!)

Recognising her area of strength was finance but learning about managing premises, health and safety, HR and more

Outsourcing work and buying in expertise

Being part of many academy conversion processes

How the ideal time to get to schools is before they transfer

Helping schools better prepare to academise

Due diligence should start the moment the school decides to convert

Tracy supporting a number of schools with due diligence process – starting in 2011 when there was little blueprint

Setting up her own business to support trust

Finding is frustrating that she’s often brought in after conversion

Schools being unaware of some of the liabilities for which they become responsible

Money being wasted by due diligence being repeated

‘Failing schools’ being rebrokered

Unfair incentives for schools being rebrokered

Seeing so many SPN’s struggle with the financial compliance and policies

Primary schools understandably less keen on joining a trust

Local schools becoming direct competition to each other

Tracy being a trustee of an academy trust

The importance of having trustees who have a connection to the school

The professional development opportunities for staff from working with other schools in a MAT

Some of the successes identified in academy conversions

How the education sector has become far more business like

Accountability being a good thing, buying power increasing

The bigger trusts now being very savvy to the systems

Negotiating contracts, collective buying power, pooling resources and staff

UTCs experiencing financial difficulties as they set themselves up

SRMAs need to help identify potential savings but focusing on those in deficit

Schools being asked to publish 14 days once received financial measures to improve

Three-year deficit budgets

Primary schools needing incentives to convert

The uncertainty and unknown about taking on a free school

Special Education Needs needing more attention

ISBL needing to listen to people who are supporting the sector

CIF changing the rules by increasing the weighting of schools value for money being almost means testing – almost discriminating against some schools

Tracy feeling that there will be a revisit of the academy system, in particular the geographical spread

Rebrokering schools to make them more local

LEA budgets being cut impacting on schools

Feeling there is a real desire from the sector just to make things better and to deliver a first class education service