Tools and Resources

May 21, 2022

This section provides access to a comprehensive list and links to statutory finance and assurance guidance, DfE and ESFA resources, and other tools developed by the sector.

In the spirit of a self-improving sector, if you are using other tools or resources that you would like to share with colleagues, then please email





DfE Get Help Buying for Schools Get help buying for schools is a free and impartial service, delivered directly by the Department for Education (DfE) to help you with buying goods and services for your school.

From 1 February 2022, all state-funded schools and trusts can access advice and guidance on buying goods and services through a DfE approved framework.

From the summer this year, through Get help buying for schools, schools will also be able to get advice for any route to market, ongoing support to help run a procurement process themselves, or if a school or trust needs extra support, the service can undertake the buying process on their behalf, through a framework or by getting quotes or bids through an appropriate buying process.
Request advice and guidance for your procurement
ESFA The financial accountability and assurance framework  Academy trusts are required by their funding agreements to submit financial returns to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). The financial accountability and assurance framework is set out in the Academies Financial Handbook and the detailed guide to academies financial assurance. View here
DfE Academies Accounts Return Year-end return based on academy financial statements, which enables DfE to produce consolidated accounts for the academy sector. View here
DfE Academies sector annual report and accounts Consolidated accounts for the academy sector reporting on expenditure and performance of the sector. View here
DfE Budget Forecast Return Return for academy trusts to submit budget information to ESFA, including an in-year update of those figures through the Budget Forecast Return: Outturn. View here
DfE Academies Land and Buildings Collection Tool Year-end return for academies to detail the legal basis for occupation of land and buildings, which enables DfE to confirm which assets to recognise in the academies sector annual report and accounts. View here
ESFA Academies Financial Handbook (AFH) Academy trusts must comply with this handbook as a condition of their funding agreement. It provides an overarching framework for implementation of effective financial management and control. View here
ESFA Financial Statements Academy trusts must submit audited accounts to ESFA by 31 December each year. Guidance on submitting audited accounts is provided in the Academies Accounts Direction. View here

Land and Buildings Valuations The academies land and buildings valuation data collection has been paused and is currently under review. New academies should complete the land and buildings valuation online form within 6 weeks of opening. This allows DfE to produce desktop valuations of the land and buildings of all new academies. View here
ESFA Academies Planning Calendar A summary of key dates and actions relating to academy funding, finance and trust compliance with their funding agreement. View here
ESFA Academy Accounts Direction The Academies Accounts Direction sets out the requirements, and provides guidance, for academy trusts in preparing their annual report and financial statements. View here
ESFA View Your Education Data The View Your Education Data portal provides analytical insights for use by organisations working with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), to support business intelligence and better decision-making. This portal includes View My Financial Insights. View here
ESFA ESFA Bulletin ESFA Update contains the latest information and actions from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) for academies, colleges, local authorities and further education providers. View here
DfE Better Financial Reporting A programme of work to simplify the submission of data to the ESFA and improve insights back to the sector from it. View here
DfE Academies Chart of Accounts A taxonomy to support your academy financial management and simplify reporting to ESFA through automation. View here
DfE Automating your accounts return A project to enable you to electronically submit financial data to ESFA without the need for manual entry into the accounts return. View here
DfE Data updates in View My Financial Insights and Schools Financial Benchmarking The View My Financial Insights tool helps schools to make data-driven decisions, evaluating their spend in key areas against peers. It is now available to Local Authorities and maintained schools with their 2020-21 data.

Both VMFI and Schools Financial Benchmarking tools will be updated to include the 2020-21 academy data in the spring term.

View your education data

View my financial insights

Schools financial benchmarking

DfE SRM  Information, tools, training and guidance to help schools and multi-academy trusts with financial planning and resource management. View here
DfE School Financial Efficiency Metric Tool A tool to provide schools in England with an indication of their efficiency compared with similar schools. This can now be found on the Schools Financial Benchmarking website. The link opposite takes you to a page explaining the methodology underpinning the tool. View here
DfE SRM Checklist Help with planning school and trust finances and resources – tools and advice from the Department for Education (DfE). View here
DfE Top 10 planning checklist for governors School and academy governors can explore these questions to help schools manage their resources and money efficiently. View here
DfE Workforce Planning Guidance for schools and academy trusts reviewing staff workforce structures. View here
DfE Training and peer support There’s a lot of financial management training and support available to school and trust leaders. This page will help you find and use it. It includes links to useful sector organisations, their training courses and other resources. View here
DfE School Resource Management Self Assessment Tool This tool can be used to reassure trusts that they are managing resources effectively and to identify any adjustments they need to make. Previously consisting of a checklist and a dashboard, the dashboard has been moved to the main site of the Schools Financial Benchmarking service. View here
DfE Schools Financial Value Standard The standard helps schools and local authorities meet basic standards for good financial health and resource management. Previously consisting of a checklist and a dashboard, the dashboard has been moved to the main site of the Schools Financial Benchmarking service. View here
ISBL Professional Standards  The Institute of School Business Leadership (ISBL) has published a suite of professional standards for school business professionals.

Use these standards to review your abilities and identify areas for development.

Headteachers and governors may use these standards for recruitment and performance management.
View here
ISBL I-SOT (ICFP) I-SOT, the ISBL School Optimisation Tool, uses the ISBL Approach to ICFP to calculate the balances, income and expenditure metrics (the Balances Metrics) and generate the 12 Key Staffing Diagnostic Metrics (the 12 Key Metrics). These provide the conversation starters required in leadership discussions around how efficiently resources are being used and how this can be improved to enhance children’s education. View here
IMP Financial management system IMP sits between your core business systems, extracting and combining your disparate operating data, giving you the whole picture across all your schools. View here
DfE Teaching Vacancies Teaching Vacancies is a free job-listing service from the Department for Education. All state-funded schools and trusts in England can use Teaching Vacancies. View here
DfE Good Estate Management for Schools Guidance, tools and resources to help schools and responsible bodies manage their school buildings and land. View here
DfE EdTech Training and Peer Support The EdTech demonstrator programme provides schools and colleges free peer-to-peer support on effective use of technology in education. View here
DfE Using Technology in Education Guidance and support for education providers who want to increase their use of EdTech. View here