How Keystone audits a trust


 What is an HR audit?

An HR audit is an objective look at how your school or trust's HR department operates, including the policies and procedures in place.

An audit can either be internal (with the trust's own HR team conducting it) or you can instruct an outside company to conduct it for you.

Unless the audit has been triggered for a specific reason, it should help you to identify issues before they become real problems.

Whether you're a governor, a trustee or an SBL, an HR audit can offer you a complete 360° view of whether your HR policies are effective, up to date, and benefit your trust. Ineffective HR that doesn't work to develop your staff through CPD, doesn't cover your legal obligations or protect your students' welfare is a detriment to the future of your MAT. 

What kinds of HR audits are there?

There are two main kinds of HR audits. Risk mitigation audits look to see if there are any policies or procedures that leave you open to future legal problems or employment tribunals. Other audits can be more focused on creating value by improving your practices to get the most out of your staff.

The most popular kind of HR audit that Keystone conducts are compliance audits. A compliance audit looks at how well your MAT complies with the conditions for teachers in the burgundy book and support staff in the green book. All trusts must comply with these regulations and HR legislation in order to receive their funding and remain open. All workplaces must also comply with the current employment laws, e.g. the Equality Act 2010.

If you are familiar with Keystone, you will know that we are passionate about lifting schools and MATs past compliance and supporting them towards 'best practice'. When you are working towards best practice, you are being as good as you possibly can be and aren't just accepting being compliant. A best practice audit will look how your school or trust could improve, even if you are totally compliant with the ATH. This may include implementing new policies or finding new ways for staff to access CPD, but the focus should always be on improving the pupils' outcomes.

Specific audits will focus on one specific area of HR compliance, such as payroll or record keeping. This may be triggered by concerns raised by trustees or governors or from a particular event. 

 Why should you conduct one?

Although conducting internal scrutiny is a requirement laid out in the ATH, it only states that there should be an evaluation of 'financial and non-financial controls". Expanding your internal scrutiny to include HR can ensure that your HR practices are to the same high level as your financial ones.

What does Keystone do?

HR audits take place in two parts. We will evaluate the current HR policies, practices and processes. The main focus of this is usually delivery areas such as performance management, CPD, hiring and safeguarding. Although some companies who perform audits will evaluate via a questionnaire, Keystone holds face-to-face meetings to gain a better understanding of your needs. The second section of the audit is a review of KPIs, such as long-term illness, staff turnover, complaints etc. Keystone will also review your organisation's file and single central record compliance and check the safer recruitment against the file for compliance. Keystone's HR experts will then work with your organisation to find the strengths and weaknesses of the HR and culture within your trust and assist you in your improvements.

What happens during your audit?

The first step in a HR audit to conduct a due diligence. When conducting the due diligence, our expert team will question you for some background information in a standard set of areas for review. Starting with the school set-up, we look at the basics (e.g. how many pupils there are) and quickly move on to more in-depth questions around the school's organisational structure.

We confirm the consistency of pay gradings and contracts within the school or trust. This can help to pinpoint any staffing issues, such as overstaffing in one area while simultaneously understaffing in another. It's very important that payroll and HR communicate efficiently to avoid issues around employment.

Our team will then check your training and records, like safeguarding, PREVENT and having a designated SL with up-to-date training, against statutory requirements. We will also ensure that you have the right policies and procedures in place to cover the obligations laid out in the ATH, such as disciplinary, capability, grievance procedures, trade union recognitions.

We can then move on to evaluate in more depth. If we take absence as an example, we would look into the tracking, monitoring, process, and the systems in place.

Other areas that we look at include;

  • Occupational health
  • Maternity and paternity
  • Long term cases

All of this is to establish if the school is managing absence and wellbeing or where they could improve. If a school is above the national average on absence, is it due to a lack of support system or a culture of not being managed and tracked well? We then look at the personnel systems and management of files and GDPR within HR. This looks at file destruction and tracking of personal information.

The reviews also include any internal HR training that may be required. This can be picked up and supported with a retainer service or individual pieces of work. This is dependent on if the HR person in school the capacity and skillset for the ongoing day to day process has but requires additional support for case management. This could be Keystone managing the case with the school or supporting with individual letters and advice to guide internal HR.

We can procedure JD reviews, SCR auditing, policies and procedure reviews.

The list is endless, and no school has the same level of requirement for HR. We can tailor the retainer package to you by completing internal scrutiny first. 

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