Academies

The 8 funding streams for new trusts or those looking to grow…

Schools Week's explainer on the extra funding available to trusts, what it is for and how much is available

Schools Week's explainer on the extra funding available to trusts, what it is for and how much is available

17 Jun 2024, 5:00

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There are eight additional government funding streams available to new or growing trusts, Schools Week analysis has established.

More than £70 million was paid out to academy chains in the past year alone through the channels, but only half of them are open to applications. 

And a whopping 46 per cent of that was handed out through the strategic school improvement capital budget (SSICB) – a largely hidden fund that has no guidance published online (click here for full story).

Here is the full list…

1. Strategic school improvement capital budget

Previously called the school sponsorship and development fund (SSDF), it is used by regional directors to secure sponsors for underperforming schools in cases where the condition or suitability of the premises is a “significant barrier” to agreement.

Open to applications?             No 

Guidance published?              No 

2023 total spend:                    £32,419,894

Last year’s biggest winner: Inspire Learning Partnership (£674,698)

2. Trust capacity fund 

A competitive grant fund available to help form and grow trusts. It focuses on “supporting high-quality trusts, and schools forming trusts, to take on underperforming schools” in priority areas.

Open to applications?             Yes

Guidance published?              Yes 

2023 total spend:                    £17,663,257

Last year’s biggest winner: Learning Academies Trust (£750,000)

3. Sponsored academies pre-opening grant

For sponsoring trusts taking on underperforming council-maintained schools, and those not making necessary improvements. Funding supports costs incurred when establishing the academy and to support school improvement activities.

Open to applications?             No 

Guidance published?              Yes

2023 total spend: £8,255,567

Last year’s biggest winner: Five trusts (£150,000)

4. Free schools project development grant 

In the lead-up to an academy’s launch, the government provides the grant “to cover essential non-capital costs up to the point at which the school opens”.

Open to applications?             Yes

Guidance published?              Yes 

2023 total spend:                    £6,666,941

Last year’s biggest winner: Three trusts (£270,000)

5. Emergency school improvement fund

Trusts apply for the cash “where there is unexpected or imminent risk of education failure, unexpected withdrawal of planned or existing support to address failure or imminent failure, or failure whereby other support options are not feasible”.

Open to applications?             Yes

Guidance published?              Yes 

2023 total spend:                    £2,646,421

Last year’s biggest winner: The Learning Alliance (£224,422)

6. Environmental improvement grant

Funding for schools needing “higher levels of intervention that supports environmental improvements” intended to impact pupil learning spaces and “to make a visual statement that the ‘old school’ has become an academy”.

Open to applications?             No 

Guidance published?              Yes 

2023 total spend:                    £2,080,000

Last year’s biggest winner: Ten trusts (£80,000)

7. Trust establishment and growth fund 

Up to £50,000 is available through TEG to provide start-up funding to “existing trusts wishing to expand or create a new MAT hub or organisations wishing to establish a new trust”.

Open to applications?             Yes

Guidance published?              Yes 

2023 total spend:                    £699,171

Last year’s biggest winner: Nine trusts (£50,000)

8. Academy transfer funding

The funding is provided when an academy is transferring from one trust to another due to intervention, where there are educational, financial, governance or safeguarding failures.

Open to applications?             No 

Guidance published?              No 

2023 spend:    £110,000 (only figures for the first six months of the year are available)

Last year’s biggest winner: The Beckmead Trust (£110,000)

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