19 September 2019

Trust Capacity Fund

The Department for Education (DfE) has announced that £17m is being allocated to encourage high-performing academy trusts to grow and support more schools across England. The Trust Capacity Fund will be used by academy trusts to build on the rising standards in many academy schools. It will focus on expanding the best performing academy trusts, supporting mid-size trusts to develop, and single academy trusts to merge.

Applications open this month and close in December. Awards will be made in conjunction with academy trust growth approved by regional schools commissioners (RSCs).

The Trust Capacity Fund will have four strands:

A1: supporting strong multi-academy trusts (MATs) to grow and innovate in areas of long-standing need.

A2: encouraging strong trusts to grow by converting and improving weaker maintained schools, or adding vulnerable academies to their trust and improving them.

B: accelerating the development of mid-sized trusts with the potential to be strong.

C: creating new strong trusts, either by single-academy trusts (SATs) joining larger trusts, or by supporting the growth of existing trusts via mergers, or priority projects identified by RSCs.

Each strand has different eligibility criteria that will include the following: financial health; trust size; school improvement; progress; phonics attainment; and English Baccalaureate (EBacc). Eligibility for the fund will be determined in two stages. Stage one will use the published criteria to determine whether a trust is eligible to apply and under which strand of the fund.

Once an eligible trust makes an application for funding, alongside their application for growth, RSCs will undertake a stage 2 assessment. They will make a final decision on whether the trust should be funded, under national guidelines, and taking into account the outcome of the application for growth.

There will be a maximum cap on funding for each strand as follows:

Strand            Grant value range
A1                      £50,000 to £310,000
A2                      £50,000 to £200,000
B                        £20,000 to £150,000
C                        £20,000 to £100,000

Practical steps

If your academy trust is considering expansion plans, it should initially check the DfE’s eligibility criteria for this Trust Capacity Fund. If eligible, you may apply for the funding to support your academy trust’s plans for growth.

If you have questions or would like advice on this, please contact Emma Swann on 01989 550 562 or at eswann@hcrlaw.com.

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About the Author
Emma Swann, Partner, Head of Academies
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