Shrewsbury Colleges Group
Group Minutes of the Audit Committee
Location Held in Room A.41, London Road Campus, Shrewsbury and via remote access through Teams
Date 15th March 23
Time 5.43 p.m.
Minutes Membership In attendance for pre-meeting presentation by Teams:
D. Pulford

Member of the Senior Leadership Team:
P. Partridge, Executive Director of Finance (EDF)
J. Staniforth, Principal/CEO

Clerk to the Board:
T. Cottee
In Attendance L. Glover, Director of Audit, Haines Watts, College Internal Audit Service (IAS)
Apologies None.

Prior to the meeting, the EDF gave an update on the key challenges and financial risks facing the college in 2023 – 2024.

      • The initial plan for 2023 – 24, had been impacted by several significant changes over the past six months:
        • Lower than anticipated enrolment of 16-19 learners;
        • The ongoing energy supply issues and historically high energy costs;
        • The Education & Skills Funding Agency’s (ESFA) changes to the Financial Health scoring system which made achieving a Financial Health score of “good” more challenging. The college now needed to achieve EBITDA of at least 6% of income to remain “Good”.
      • As part of planning for next year and to identify where the impact of these challenges could be mitigated, the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) had reviewed the current in-year position and developed an updated plan for 2023/24. The plan identified additional sources of income related to grant funding already secured and known opportunities for growth or new business which were considered to be highly likely to be realised. In addition, it identified sources of savings.

After discussing the points raised by the EDF & P/CEO, the Committee concluded that the revised 2023 – 24 Plan offered significant assurance.

L. Glover joined the meeting by remote access through Teams. D. Pulford left the meeting.

01/23. Declarations of Interest

There were no declarations of interest.

02/23. Draft Minutes of the Meeting Held 23 November 2022 (Appendix, Agenda Item 3)

The Minutes of the meeting held on 23 November 2022, were agreed as a true record.

03/23. Report from Internal Audit Service (Appendix, Agenda item 4)

Mr Glover presented the following report (previously circulated) –

Internal Audit Progress Report - 2022/23 – March 2023

      • There had been no amendments to the Internal Audit Strategy approved by the Committee at its last meeting (Audit Min. No. 29/22 refers).
      • Two audits were currently in progress.
      • The Committee was signposted to development updates posted by the IAS on its LinkedIn site:
        • Subcontracting Standard Audit Requirements
        • DfE Keeping Children Safe in Education
        • Grant Management
        • Office for National Statistics (ONS) Reclassification
        • 16-19 Funding for Academic Year 23/24

The Committee reviewed progress against the Audit Plan and noted that all audits had been planned in accordance with management and it was expected that all reviews would be completed in accordance with the agreed budgeted days.

Resolved: That the report be noted.

04/23. Risk Register and Board Assurance Framework (Appendix, Agenda Item 5)

The Committee reviewed the 2022 – 2023 Risk Register and Board Assurance Framework (previously circulated).

The EDF explained the risks identified and mitigating actions being undertaken. A new strategic risk had been added to the Register (FBO 26 – Planned defunding of AGQs) as the government had announced the defunding of a broader range of advance general qualifications than originally announced.

The EFD confirmed that the risk of the adverse financial impact of significant under recruitment of planned 16 – 18 learner numbers had materialised for 2023-24. The college focus was on improving recruitment for September 2023, which would determine funding in 2024-25. In response to questions, the P/CEO explained the arrangements the college had put in place to maximise applications, including partnering a member of the Admissions Team with a specific school, to ensure a consistent approach to the relationship, taking opportunities to visit schools and investing in interview training for staff to ensure all applicants received a positive experience and to maximise conversion of application to enrolment.

With respect to Risk FBO 23 (Risk that campuses are not sufficient to meet demand), the EDF advised that the college would undertake the Welsh Bridge Campus expansion project as a new course, Criminology, would be introduced at the Campus from September 2023. The P/CEO reported that it had attracted a large number of applications. This project would be funded either by Capacity Bid funding (if the college was successful in its application) or from the one-off capital funding received.

The Committee Chair reported that he had recently attended the Association of College’s Joint Finance/Audit Committee Chairs’ Forum. The discussion had been useful and he circulated to the Committee slides from a presentation made to the Forum, ‘What Do Audit Committees Need to Know?’. He signposted the slide on 2023 risks and opportunities and encouraged the Committee to bear these issues in mind as part of its future discussions.

In response to a question from the P/CEO on whether there were any other risks the Committee should be aware of, Mr Glover reported that campus security was being raised amongst other sector clients. The P/CEO confirmed that the college had invested in campus security, including fencing and campus access systems. The Vice Principal Students & Partnerships led the local safeguarding group, which provided a source of assurance over security with respect to safeguarding. The EDF explained that the college was also aware of its obligations under ‘Martyn’s Law’ introduced in the wake of the Manchester Arena bombing which required venues, including colleges and local authorities to have preventative action plans against terror attacks. Initial feedback on the proposals suggested that the college was already compliant.

The Committee concluded that the risks have been appropriately identified and the management actions reported were effectively mitigating these risks.

Resolved: RECOMMENDED TO BOARD that the Risk Register be approved.


05/23. Audit Recommendation Tracking Report (Appendix Agenda Item 6)

The Committee reviewed the Audit Recommendation Tracking Report (previously circulated).

The recommendation regarding Bursaries Awards and Accounting Processes and Controls had been superseded as Bursary procedures had been reviewed since the Audit. This was accepted by the Committee.

The renewal of credit card holder declarations completion date had been revised to May 2023. The EDF expected completion by this date.

It was AGREED that the next pre-Committee topic briefing be on ICT business continuity and include -

      • Ransomware and cyber-attack insurance arrangements;
      • The college’s arrangements to mitigate the risk of ransomware attacks;
      • The college’s ICT back up arrangements; and
      • The college’s ICT disaster recovery arrangements.

06/23. Irregularity and Fraud

None reported.

07/23. Risk

The Committee agreed that the risks relevant to the Committee have been appropriately identified and the management actions reported were effectively mitigating these risks.

08/23. Date of Next Meeting – Wednesday, 14 June 2023 from 5.30 p.m.

The meeting concluded at 6.44 p.m.