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Format of Accounts

A standardised format for the annual accounts of a Voluntary Secondary School has been approved by the Department of Education and Skills. The FSSU will only accept accounts that are prepared using the agreed format below.  Certified or audited school accounts should include the ‘General Information’ as outlined on page 3 of the sample set of school accounts in the Accountant’s Report. Please note the additional requirement to include a Cashflow Statement in the annual accounts.

For a detailed sample of a set of audited or certified school accounts below.  In particular,  the detailed Income and Expenditure Account – the Management Information – should follow the format outlined. Any queries in this regard should be addressed by contacting the FSSU on 01-269 0677.

The school should be supplied with a minimum of four sets of accounts in hardcopy.

 Timetable for School Accounts

The school’s annual accounts should be prepared for the year ending August 31st each year to coincide with the academic year. We are requesting all schools and their external school accountants/auditors comply with the  timescale below.

The deadlines below should be seen as the latest dates at each stage of the procedure. Some Trustees may require a shorter timescale. In any event, the timescale allows a maximum of six months following the end of the school year to complete the annual accounts for submission to the FSSU.

Schools that do not ensure submission of manual and online annual accounts within six months following the end of the school year will be subject to audit by the FSSU.


School Annual Accounts Preparation Stages Date Deadline
The school supplies all necessary financial information to the external school accountant for the school year ending on the previous August 31st  

September 30th


The draft annual accounts are returned by the external school accountant.


November 30th

Once the school Board of Management is satisfied that the accounts are an accurate reflection of the school’s financial situation, they are formally ratified by the Board, signed by the Chairperson and one other Board member and then two copies forwarded to the Trustees/Patron for approval.  

December 31st

or earlier

as required by the Trustee/Patron


The accounts should be signed by the Trustee/Patron and one copy returned to the school


January 31st

A hard copy of the school’s Annual Accounts duly signed by the Board of Management and the Trustees is forwarded to the FSSU.  

February 28th

External school accountants/auditors are required to access a secure online cloud based system and to input the school trial balance.  

February 28th

Financial report to parents

Under section 18 of the Education Act 1998, the school is required to provide a financial report to parents of students in the school. To comply with this requirement, we have created a recommended template for this report, see below. Where requested, External School accountants/Auditors are encouraged to prepare this report for the school.

Financial Report to Parents Template

Aspects of School Accounts Requiring Attention

1.1 School Grants from the Department of Education and Skills: Most revenue grants received by schools may be expended on school needs as determined by the school’s Board of Management. However, some grants such as Supervision and Substitution, Book Grant, IT grants and Capital grants must be spent on the purpose intended as laid down in specific circulars and the accounts should reflect this.

  • a) Revenue Grants: The grants from the DES should be processed through the income and expenditure account only when the conditions relating to the grant have been satisfied. The grants should be accounted for on an accruals basis and recognised in the accounts when the conditions for their receipt have been complied with.
  • b) Capital Grants: These grants can only be used for the specific purpose intended and should be ring-fenced in a deposit account until required. The annual accounts should include a note to the accounts reconciling the opening grant balance carried forward, adding the grants received, deducting the grant money spent and agreeing the closing balance with the money in the bank account. When the school receives a grant to finance or partly finance, the purchase, construction or development of an asset, and the asset is capitalised, the grant should be credited to “Deferred Capital Grants” and amortised over the useful economic life of the asset at the same rate as the depreciation charge on the asset for which the grant was awarded. The DES issues terms and conditions with each capital grant (including Summer Works Scheme Grants) which must be satisfied for the school to receive the grant.

1.2 Prepayments and Accruals: A schedule of prepayments and accruals should be included in the annual accounts.

1.3 Bank Accounts: All school transactions should be processed through the main school current account. Where other school accounts exist they should be reflected in the annual accounts. In particular, bank accounts opened for school tours, sports hall activities, social initiative programmes and by the school’s Parents’ Council should be incorporated into the annual accounts of the school. Every single bank account opened in the name of the school should be controlled and monitored by the Board of Management.

1.4 Cash Control: Controls and procedures in the school regarding the substantial amounts of cash processed through the school office should be examined and tested as part of the annual review.

1.5 Documentation: A comprehensive filing system for retention of documentation relating all aspects of school finance should be in place and regularly evaluated.

1.6 “Netting Off” Income and Expenditure: The school accounting system is designed to assist the school in managing its finances. To achieve this, schools are required to separate specific areas of income and expenditure so that the Board is fully aware of the volume of cash handled by the school and how it is expended. It is critical that the various income and expenditure accounts such as Supervision and Substitution and school tours should not be “netted off”.

1.7 Supervision and Substitution grants must be spent on the purpose intended in accordance with Circular 01/03. Detailed records for Supervision and Substitution should be retained in the school for seven years.

1.8 Payroll: All payroll payments should be checked for Revenue compliance.

1.9 RCT/VAT: Registration and operation of RCT/VAT should be reviewed for Revenue compliance. We request that External School Accountants/Auditors confirm this in writing to the Board of Management.

1.10 Opening Balances: Adjustments to the opening balances on the schools accounting system should be given to the school and posted to ensure that the closing balances per the financial statements agree with the schools accounting system.


2. Computerised Format

Most secondary schools are now using either TAS or Sage 50 accounts package to maintain school accounts. During July 2016 some schools began the transition of moving from TAS to Sage 50 as TAS will reach its end of life in the near future and will no longer be supported by its owner Sage. It is envisaged that FSSU support for TAS will cease on the 31st of August 2017. It is strongly recommended that all schools use the Sage 50 package going forward as it has been customised for voluntary secondary schools in accordance with the agreed format. All schools should also be using a computerised payroll package to process school payroll.

3. Charitable Donations

A number of schools are availing of tax relief on Charitable Donations under the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997. It has been brought to our attention that some schools are not in compliance with the requirements of the scheme and are including income from transition year students, books and other payments which confer benefits on those making the payments. Schools not in compliance could be subject to significant repayments to Revenue plus penalties. Please ensure that this does not occur in any school for which annual accounts are prepared.