Agenda item

Internal Audit Plan 2022/23


Paul Clarke (Internal Audit Manager) introduced the item and informed members a draft plan of work for 2022/23 had been produced, which set out possible risks and the strategy for the year ahead. These risks were presented in Annex 1. The plan was kept under review over the course of the year as circumstances and priorities changed. Paul Clarke said it had not been possible to include all risks due to the level of resources available, but the strategy provided a good balance of work across many areas. Paul Clarke said the audit charter set out in Appendix B had been reviewed and no amendments had been deemed necessary.


The Chair noted the comment on page 185 of the agenda regarding schools continuing to experience financial difficulties, and that no individual school audits were planned. Paul Clarke said this was an ongoing area of work and a range of controls had been suggested in order to identify schools potentially at risk of financial difficulty as soon as possible. Andy Felton said a strategic action group, which included educational, finance, HR and legal professionals, has been established for a number of years to review the financial circumstances of particular schools. If any issues were identified then a specialist team would be put in place to resolve the problems with the school, and this team would have a range of powers, including the ultimate ability to remove people from school Governing Boards or leadership roles if necessary..


Councillor Brian Hammersley said there appeared to have been a recent exodus of headteachers from schools nationally, and this had been mentioned at a recent Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Andy Felton said he was not aware of an issue regarding headteachers in Warwickshire. However, he said Warwickshire was part of a group of councils towards the lower end of the spectrum in terms of funding for schools.


Responding to a question from the Chair about schools doing their own critical self-assessments, Andy Felton said this would be expected to occur through the annual Schools’ Financial Values Survey (SFVS). This would start the process of raising awareness of any financial issues but was dependent on the awareness and honesty of those undertaking the survey. Responding to a question from Councillor Chris Kettle about schools’ ability to accurately take part in the survey, Andy Felton said school finances were not managed by the County Council and the surveys would generally be compiled by a bursar or finance manager and has to be approved by the governing body. However, this was sometimes an issue in smaller schools where some members of staff had multiple roles.


Responding to a point raised by Councillor Sarah Feeney regarding the SEND Improvement Programme, Paul Clarke confirmed this was under consideration and work on the this would be taking place in the next financial year as it was top of the list of additional risks that had not been included within the current plan. Councillor Sarah Feeney said SEN requirements put additional financial strain onto schools, which could be further exacerbated if a pupil was made the subject of an Education Health and Care Plan.


Councillor Chris Kettle noted the topics listed on page 202 that were not being audited in the current financial year and asked if there were any additional topics not listed, and which, if any, would have been prioritised if the resources were available. Paul Clarke said a range of works that provided a good balance across all areas of the Council’s work had been included, and the areas of highest priority had been selected. Andy Felton highlighted that the scope of the audit plan proposed offered sufficient coverage to allow Paul Clarke to provide a valid audit opinion on the overall Council control environment at the end of the financial year in which the audits will take place.


Members noted the contents of the report and appendices.

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