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Schools must convert in groups of three or more to claim £25k academy support grant

| Rachel Barrett | 5 April 2024

The government has announced new criteria for an academy conversion grant which means schools no longer qualify to receive £25k funding to help with the conversion process unless they convert in groups of three or more from 1 September this year.

The change means local authority schools converting to become single-academy trusts (SATs) or joining a large multi-academy trust (MAT) alone will not qualify for the grant from 1 September.

However special and alternative provision schools will continue to be eligible to receive the grant as part of a single-school conversion process.

The Confederation of School Trusts (CST) has voiced concern over a spike in academy conversions before the change. It has sought assurances from the DfE that it will have the capacity to manage a potential spike in academy conversions during the summer term by schools looking to convert before the grant funding rules change.

The CST also thinks that small schools joining trusts should be “treated in the same way that special and AP schools are being treated under this policy change”.

Schools wanting to convert and receive the grant under the current eligibility criteria should register their interest by 26 April, submit the application by 7 June and have it approved by a regional director before the changes come into place on 1 September.

Academy trust mergers set to increase

It was reported last week that Coast and Vale Learning Trust decided it had to merge with a larger academy trust after being told by the Department for Education it would not be allowed to take on any more schools in deficit. The six-school trust will now join Delta Academies Trust which has 57 schools.

Trust mergers are increasing and the government expects that “most trusts will be on a trajectory to either serve a minimum of 7,500 pupils or run at least 10 schools” by 2030.

Kreston UK Academies Benchmark Report

The Kreston UK Academies Benchmark Report, co-authored by Duncan & Toplis and released in February this year, highlighted future trends, particularly stagnating and falling pupil numbers. This now needs to be a consideration when boards are looking at their longer-term strategies and how they are going to manage this.

It also highlighted some of the benefits of schools being a part of a MAT and how they can reap the most reward from that move through centralisation and GAG pooling.

Although the report showed that we are seeing more schools joining MATS we are not seeing the number of MATs grow, which would suggest trusts are seeing the benefits of joining forces to become more financially strong and stable. If SATs are already considering this option, now may be time to act.

Our 12th annual survey of 279 trusts representing over 2,300 schools underscores the resilience of the sector but also points towards ongoing challenges that schools must navigate for sustained success.

To download the full Kreston UK Academies Benchmark Report, click here.


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