The Kite Academy Trust was established in October 2015 with five local schools deciding to work together to provide the very best education and care for their children, families and staff. To get the ball rolling the schools had to go through the conversion process and therefore set up a working party led by Christine Dickinson, who is now Kite’s CEO. Whilst the team was extremely experienced, they appointed Wise & Co as auditors and to assist them with the conversion process.
Wise & Co partner, Mark Dickinson, acts for a number of academies across Surrey and Hampshire as well as for some independent schools. Mark and his team’s experience and collaborative approach meant that the Kite working party was also able to refer to them for guidance on their new reporting requirements and on the internal systems and controls, which they needed to implement as part of the process.
Jane Coleman is The Kite Academy’s Head of Finance. As a qualified accountant and a former chair of governors at another school, she had a good understanding of how things worked. But there were still things to do and forms to submit within key timescales that she wasn’t familiar with as everything was new.
Jane explains, “Wise & Co’s audit manager was absolutely fantastic. Whilst we had a check list that we were following, our Wise & Co manager went that extra mile, interpreting and explaining exactly what we needed to do at key times and keeping in regular contact with us. I very much value the team’s opinion – they are very approachable and give us the reassurance that everything is being handled correctly within the necessary time frames”.
Wise & Co’s role has developed since its initial appointment. The team guided them with the implementation process of their new accounting system and now provide internal audit services. Having an internal audit has been particularly beneficial as it has allowed the Kite Academy to refine and continually improve its systems, which in turn has enabled it to grow.
Growth also meant inevitable changes to the organisational structure and there is now a central team in place which looks after the majority of the document processing and reporting. In the past the Wise & Co audit team would have audited each school separately, but with centralisation the team adapted their year-end audit approach so that it has become even more efficient. Jane now also prepares the Kite Academy’s Annual Accounts Return thanks to guidance from the Wise & Co Audit Supervisor, Jess Crawley.
Jane adds, “Our working relationship is extremely healthy and it’s really great knowing that I have someone I can ask for technical assistance or use to bounce ideas off. Our board of trustees also particularly values Wise & Co’s expertise – nothing is too much trouble and they find the work of Wise & Co very reassuring. They don’t have to just rely on what I say, as Wise & Co’s audits provide an essential double check on what I say and do.”
Mark summarises the relationship by saying, “We’re always on hand for our clients and we’ll always try and find the best solution to assist with any issues that they are facing. We very much enjoy working with the Kite team and nothing has given us greater pleasure than seeing the Academy grow so successfully”.