Schools can now register an expression of interest in getting some of a new £140 million improvement funding pot – but the government is keeping quiet on further details.
The education secretary Justine Greening announced the new funding in November under a package of measures to ensure improvement support was “targeted at the schools most in need”.
Schools commissioner Sir David Carter said the cash would go towards four issues. He wants to create “less patchy” coverage of multi-academy trusts and teaching school alliances, launch quality teacher training in challenging areas, ensure effective curriculum schemes reach all classrooms, and allow faster intervention in failing schools.
The government is now inviting expressions of interest from academies and maintained schools for the funding.
Interested parties fill out a Google form, supplying their email address and which organisation they work for. They will then be emailed more information about the fund when it opens.
The £140 million would make the biggest impact for schools that are in the most difficulty
The Department for Education would not provide further details – including when the fund opens for official bids and when cash will be dished out.
The funding was announced alongside a new £50 million grant for local authorities to monitor and rebroker school improvement for low-performing maintained schools. Final allocations for that grant will be confirmed in September.
However, councils have pointed out that the £50 million does not make up for the £600 million cut in the education services grant they used to receive.
Carter last year said that multi-million pound funding in the “current climate” was “fairly unprecedented”, and proved the government had shifted its focus from “mass conversion to mass improvement”.
The £140 million, he said, would “make the biggest impact for schools that are in the most difficulty”.
The new cash aligns with his plan to parachute in support to struggling schools that are “unattractive” to new sponsors.
As revealed by Schools Week last week, he wants to send in national leaders of education on short-term support contracts when schools fall into special measures, similar to the support previously offered by local authorities.
He said this would give regional schools commissioners time to deal with the underlying blockage to a permanent takeover – normally down to hefty private finance initiative contracts or crumbling buildings.
Carter also signalled his intent to set up a more consistent spread of teaching school alliances, and to grow capacity in multi-academy trusts.