Willows Academy Trust, based in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire has 1050 pupils, aged between four and eleven.
The trust is made up of four schools; Dovedale Primary School, Sawley Infants, Sawley Junior and Shardlow Primary.
The schools in the trust began working with SAAF Education before they converted and joined Willows Academy Trust in November 2014.
They turned to SAAF as they believed they didn’t have the correct level of knowledge internally to meet the financial infrastructure changes introduced by the conversion.
After working with SAAF before, Jeannie Haigh, CEO of Willows Academy and head teacher at Dovedale Primary School, looked to Andi Brown, our director and co-founder, for his support.
Jeannie said: “I had already built a strong relationship with SAAF after working with them at another school.
“Their level of knowledge and expertise is what we needed, and they were also familiar with PS Financials, the finance software we purchased.”
Due to the schools in the trust working with us before they converted to academies, we were able to ensure everything was set-up correctly. This ensured the academy conversions were as smooth as possible.
Jeannie said: “When we decided to convert to an academy, a lot of changes were introduced to our financial administration processes.
“The changes included the need for a more stringent month end accounting closedown process, increased deadlines for audits and submissions, and more in-depth reporting requirements.”
With this in mind, we appointed a finance consultant to provide operational and strategic finance support, introduced our payroll system and carried out regular internal audits.
A key benefit that Willows Academy Trust recognise from our services is the time saved every month.
“Without SAAF’s support we’d have to spend a significant amount of time during the month processing everything needed for our financial reports,” Jeannie continued.
“And we’d need to recruit another member to our team. So we’ve certainly saved costs by using SAAF and simply couldn’t manage without them.”
In addition to this, Willows Academy Trust identifies our on-going customer service as invaluable saying that they wouldn’t hesitate to recommend us to other schools and academies.
Jeannie added: “SAAF act as an extension of our finance team. They are very transparent and always respond immediately to our queries.
“We also really appreciate the training they provide and our team regularly attends their sessions.
“Overall our experience with SAAF has been extremely positive. They’re a professional, knowledgeable team.”
To find out more about our finance support for schools and academy trusts, contact us today.