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Results Of The 2020 School Audits

We’ve published our report Results of the 2020 school audits on our website.

As is the case each year, we issued standard unmodified opinions for most of the schools we audit. This means that, in our opinion, those schools’ financial statements fairly reflect their transactions for the year and their financial position at the end of the year. We issued more modified opinions than normal in the past year but about half of them were related to pre-2020 audits. The most common modification of our opinion related to schools not having enough information about the future maintenance obligations for their buildings.

Our report on the results of the 2020 school audits includes details of where we have reported on specific matters for individual schools. Some of these relate to previous years’ audits, but for the 2020 audits we did draw attention to two schools claiming the wage subsidy, and the spending on gifts and farewells for another school.

We also draw attention in our audit reports of those schools considered to be in financial difficulty. We were concerned that the impact of Covid-19 would mean more schools would get into financial difficulty, but we identified only 17 schools as being in financial difficulty for the 2020 year, compared to about 40 schools in a normal year. We also identified an overall improvement in the financial position of schools at 31 December 2020. However, this had largely been achieved through additional government funding, so we might see different results when we complete our 2021 audits.

This year the completion of our school audits was again disrupted by Covid-19, with only 70% of the 2020 school audits completed by the 31 May deadline. Although this was better than last year, border closures have created an auditor shortage and our auditors could not complete all their school audits on time. This was particularly disappointing because this year we received about 96% of draft financial statements for audit by the March deadline. We appreciate all the hard work that schools and their financial service providers put in to achieve this.

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