Accounting officer: role and responsibilities

Understand the accounting officer's responsibilities and what happens if they're absent.

Last reviewed on 31 July 2023
School types: AcademySchool phases: AllRef: 42351
  1. Trustees must appoint an accounting officer 
  2. Main responsibilities
  3. See examples of training 

Trustees must appoint an accounting officer 

  • They should be an employee of your trust
  • They should be a senior executive leader – in single academy trusts this should be the principal, in multi-academy trusts (MATs) it should be the chief executive or equivalent 
  • They must be fit and suitable for the role
  • You must get prior approval from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) if, in exceptional circumstances, you want to appoint an accounting officer who isn't a trust employee 
  • They must not be the same person as your chief financial officer

This is outlined in sections 1.27 and 1.28 of the Academy Trust Handbook (ATH).

Main responsibilities

In summary: 

  • This role is all about financial accountability and keeping proper financial records
  • They primarily play a leadership role


Be personally responsible to parliament, and to the ESFA's accounting officer, for the financial resources under the trust’s control  Be able to assure parliament, and the public, of high standards of management of public funds, particularly: Value for money –