Academy trusts could receive up to £750,000 to take on at least five schools in underperforming areas.
And it seems they will no longer be penalised for “excessive executive pay” when bidding for expansion cash.
The Department for Education has set out the application guidance for the next waves of its “trust capacity fund” (TCaF), worth £86 million over three years.
A new strand from this year will be worth up to £750,000 over two years for trusts that take on at least five schools, one of which must be ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’ in one of the government’s education investment areas (EIAs).
The cash is also available for those wanting to form a new multi-academy trust with at least five schools in EIAs.
The amount on offer for smaller expansion projects has also risen. Those taking on at least one school with a less than ‘good’ rating in an EIA will receive up to £500,000 over two years, up from £300,000 in previous waves.
Trusts taking on a struggling school outside an EIA will get up to £250,000, up from £200,000.
The maximum “capacity giver” grant for trusts taking on ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ schools outside an EIA remains at £100,000.
Previously, trusts that received letters from the DfE on “excessive executive pay” could have points deducted from their applications for expansion cash.
But this did not feature in the most recent application guidance. The DfE said it was reviewing its “long-term approach to challenging comparatively high pay and, in the meantime, we are keeping this guidance under close review”.
‘More strategic approach’ welcomed
A new trust establishment and growth fund has also been launched to help expansion projects in their early stages.
Up to £50,000 is up for grabs if trusts are planning to take on a minimum of three schools in any area.
Leora Cruddas, the chief executive of the Confederation of School Trusts, welcomed “this new more strategic approach” to capacity funding.
“We are particularly encouraged by strands one and two of TCaF where funding is available over two financial years, with larger grants sizes.”
In total, 103 trusts won funding in window two of last year’s bidding rounds, totalling £15.1 million. It takes the total for last year’s grants to £33.7 million.
Truro and Penwith Academy Trust landed the largest grant at £430,950. Futura Learning Partnership, Wessex Multi-Academy Trust and Wimborne Academy Trust received £300,000 each.