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“Working and learning together to improve children’s lives”

YCAT YCAT

 

Trust Services

Our collaborative approach extends to our business and administrative functions and our staff work as a team across YCAT.  We operate a Shared Service Centre, YCAT Central, which is focused on meeting the needs of all schools and of the Trust, providing a strong co-ordinating role.

Supported by the DfE, YCAT Central has acquired and developed skills in key business areas including finance, procurement, estates management, governance and data protection allowing each of our schools to draw on this expertise. YCAT Central is led by a qualified chartered accountant with significant experience in the education sector and wide ranging experience in other sectors.

YCAT Central’s role includes the following:

Finance

At initial conversion, we established a centralised finance function.  Recent benchmarking surveys have confirmed that this is the most cost-effective approach and it is now recognised as best practice. We have one bank account and the YCAT Central Team process all transactions on the finance system.

A key principle of our Shared Service approach is that schools retain responsibility for their own budgets.  The role of YCAT Central in budget setting and monitoring is to provide the tools and to support and help the schools.  The level of support is bespoke to each school and dependent on their needs but often includes budget preparation and monitoring, working with school staff.

The CFO provides one to one training to support school staff in developing their skills in budget management.

YCAT Central carries out all the trust level financial activities including preparation of statutory company accounts and returns to the Education and Skills Funding Agency, management of the external and internal audit process, management of the internal control system and co-ordination of risk management.

Procurement

Schools have responsibility for managing their own budgets and use a web portal for the requisition and approval of goods and services.  However, a key role of YCAT Central is to focus on cost efficiencies across the Trust.  A programme of review and re-procurement of key contracts ensures we focus on maintaining value for money, particularly on contracts procured at a number of our schools.

YCAT Central will also manage procurement of large value contracts for individual schools, drawing on external expertise where necessary.

HR and Payroll

Each school has responsibility for recruitment and local administration of staff.  YCAT Central liaises with our payroll provider and checks each monthly payroll, paying tax, NI, Pensions and other deductions and submitting appropriate returns to HMRC, pension providers etc…

YCAT Central manages the development and implementation of staff related policies, including the pay policy, liaising with external professionals through an agreed Service Level Agreement for our Trust.

YCAT Central also co-ordinates the use of a common budget planning software to ensure staffing costs are appropriately budgeted and monitored effectively within the budget monitoring process.

Estates Management

YCAT Central provides overall asset management for YCAT properties, liaising with external specialists including surveyors and health and safety experts.  On conversion, we undertake a full condition survey for each school including both buildings and mechanical and electrical equipment.  This provides a basis for 5 year asset management plan.  A prioritised plan is then used as a basis for DfE or other funding bids which are co-ordinated by YCAT Central.

YCAT Central also co-ordinates responsive maintenance work at each school, liaising with schools and contractors and ensuring appropriate procedures and checks are in place for any contractor working at one of our schools. The YCAT Central team has built a database of local providers and will regularly review prices and quality to ensure we continue to procure services that provide value for money.

At present, we buy into an equipment servicing and repair plan which ensures we remain compliant with testing and monitoring of equipment.

Governance

The trustees of YCAT have ultimate responsibility for the governance of the Trust.  However, each school in YCAT retains a Local Governing Body (LGB) who act as a committee of the Trust board with key local responsibility for school improvement, financial management and safeguarding.

YCAT Central has developed and implemented consistent structures and terms of reference for each Local Governing Body and our governance expert works closely with each LGB to support their role. 

YCAT Central also co-ordinates the process of developing and approving Trust wide policies, maintaining an overall scheme of delegation which clarifies respective roles of trustees, governors and leadership.

The YCAT Central governance expert acts as clerk to all trust level meetings.

Training can often be difficult to access for trustees and governors. Responding to this need, the YCAT Central Team has developed a suite of bespoke short online training programmes covering key areas including financial management, risk management, monitoring and evaluation and overall induction.  Further training is under development.

Data Protection

With the introduction of GDPR, data protection now has a high profile within schools as the risks from non-compliance are high.  YCAT Central has developed a co-ordinating role to support the implementation and maintenance of GDPR compliant processes across YCAT, liaising with a single external contact to provide the statutory DPO role.

ICT

YCAT Central procures Scholarpack, our MIS System on behalf of all schools.

YCAT Central developed and now manages the Trust level Sharepoint, which provides a Trust wide and school level tool to support collaboration.

The YCAT Admin Team

All staff within the YCAT Admin Team work closely together, sharing good practice and helping each other out when needed.  The team meets offsite each term for updates and training.

Topslice

Our Topslice is currently 5% and covers School Improvement Support and all the above Trust Services.

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