Schools

Revealed: 24 ‘priority’ areas to split £40m improvement cash

DfE also almost doubles academy trust growth funding for the next three years

DfE also almost doubles academy trust growth funding for the next three years



The government has named 24 “priority education investment areas” which will split around £40 million to tackle issues like absences.

The government has also almost doubled the amount of trust capacity funding on offer over the next three years as it seeks to get all schools to join academy trusts by 2030.

In its schools white paper, ministers said the extra cash would be split between 24 of its 55 “education investment areas“, which were created in the recent levelling-up white paper.

This subset is made up of 12 existing opportunity areas, and 12 other areas with low achievement and high levels of deprivation.

The Department for Education has not said much about exactly what the extra funding will be spent on. The white paper said it would aim to address “entrenched underperformance, including in literacy and numeracy”.

The money will be spent on “bespoke interventions to address local needs, such as addressing high absence rates”.

As set out in the levelling-up white paper, there will also be a “targeted number” of “high quality, academically focused 16-19 free schools in the areas where they are most needed”.

These schools will “aim to rapidly increase the proportion of disadvantaged children in these areas progressing to top universities”. Bids from the priority areas will be prioritised.

£86m for trust capacity

The government is also increasing the amount of trust capacity funding handed out across England to encourage the “strongest trusts” to expand into education investment areas.

Ministers will make £86 million available over three years, almost 80 per cent more than was paid out over the last three years.

In 2019-20, the DfE handed out just under £16 million. In 2020-21, it distributed £13.4 million. And this year it gave out £18.6 million, meaning total funding of £48 million between 2019 and 2022.

The new funding of £86 million over three years amounts to almost £29 million a year.

The application process for 2022-23 trust capacity funding has now opened.

Trusts will receive up to £310,000 for projects that involve taking on at least one additional ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’ rated school from education investment areas and other places of “higher need”.

For all other trust capacity building projects, trusts will receive up to £100,000.

The 24 ‘priority areas’

Existing opportunity areas in bold

  • Blackpool
  • Bradford
  • Derby
  • Doncaster
  • Fenlands and East Cambridgeshire
  • Halton
  • Hartlepool
  • Hastings
  • Ipswich
  • Knowsley
  • Liverpool
  • Middlesbrough
  • North Yorkshire Coast
  • Norwich
  • Nottingham
  • Oldham
  • Portsmouth
  • Rochdale
  • Salford
  • Sandwell
  • Stoke-on-Trent
  • Tameside
  • Walsall
  • West Somerset


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