Schools Briefing – ISBA Conference 2024

Walking to school with books

23rd May 2024

Welcome to the ISBA Conference edition of our Schools Briefing for independent schools, where we provide updates and insights on accounting, tax, reporting and governance for school bursars and Governors.

The realisation of VAT on school fees is stronger than ever, and as such, this edition of our schools briefing looks at various ways independent schools can best prepare. To begin, Tracey Young, Partner and Head of Education, shares the results of the Independent Schools Management Survey 2024. On the back of the recent challenges, some interesting figures have shown an increase in pupil numbers, an increase in pay awards for teachers, and an increase in fees.

Phil Salmon, Partner and Co-Head of VAT, highlights a number of practical steps schools should action to prepare for the likely introduction of VAT on school fees. He touches on various methods to include Capitals Goods Scheme, infiltrating a Fees In Advance scheme, and reviewing the timing of your expenditure.

Our guest author, Max King, Head of Epoch Consulting, has penned an article looking at investment policies, and what makes them fit for purpose. He shares advice on how to set objectives, best practice, and gives guidance on how to build on your existing Investment Policy or Statement of Investment Principles.

International expansion is becoming ever more prevalent across the schools sector and Louise Veragoo, Director, explores some of the options for international partners, how they can be structured, and direct tax considerations schools should think about when contemplating a new international venture.

In my article, I take a look at Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and monitoring, and how to get it right for the challenges ahead. With the continuing pressures in the sector, it is more important than ever to monitor and assess KPIs to help ensure budgets are being managed effectively, and future forecasting is both accurate and achievable.

It was announced by HM Revenue & Customs that mandatory payrolling of benefits will take effect from April 2026, but what exactly does this mean for schools? Nick Bustin, Employment Tax Director, and Joanne Hennessey, Senior Manager share more detail on the current position and what is being proposed. Planning ahead will be key, and Nick goes on to highlight areas that schools should think about, to include taxable benefits amongst others.

Finally, there has been an increase in formalising fundraising plans in schools on the back of the current challenges. Siobhan Holmes, Director, shares some examples of how to get the most out of your fundraising activities. Schools can explore how to spend restricted donations, review their pledged income opportunities, and look at ways to maximise donations by claiming Git Aid.

I hope you enjoy this edition and find these articles of interest. Do feel free to let the authors, me or your regular contact know if you have any questions concerning the matters discussed.

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Lee Stokes

Partner, Head of Care & Community
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