Academy conversion

Academy Conversion Grant Changes

PAG Staff2024, Article, bid writing, DfE, free schools, Policy, Schools, Transition

Academy Conversion Grant Changes 

In a significant development, the Department for Education (DfE) has updated the eligibility criteria for maintained schools considering conversion to academy or trust status. This change, announced just yesterday (21/03/24), aims to streamline the conversion process and encourage a more collaborative, community-driven approach among schools. Let's delve into what this means for schools and the strategic implications of this policy change.

Understanding the New Academy Conversion Grant Policy

The DfE has introduced an amendment to the eligibility criteria for accessing the voluntary conversion grant, a financial support mechanism designed to aid maintained schools in their transition to academy or trust status. From 1 September 2024, maintained schools that are converting to become an academy, forming a new trust, or joining an existing trust will still be eligible for a £25,000 support grant to facilitate the conversion process, however a new key condition of this updated policy is that the grant will only be available to clusters of three or more schools (this can be a combination of maintained schools and single academy trusts, for instance; it could be two maintained schools and a single academy trust. In this case, the two maintained schools would get the £25,000 each) that are approved to form or join a trust. This stipulation does not pertain to the size of the trust itself, aiming to foster a sense of community and shared purpose among converting schools.  

Special and alternative provision schools, including pupil referral units (PRUs), remain eligible to receive the grant as part of a single-school conversion process, ensuring that these vital institutions are not left behind in the move towards a more integrated educational landscape.

Deadline for Current Eligibility Criteria  

Schools contemplating joining a trust and wishing to be considered under the current eligibility criteria have a narrow window of opportunity. They must register their interest by Friday, 26 April 2024, and submit their conversion application by Friday, 7 June 2024. Approval from a Regional Director is required by 1 September 2024 for schools to qualify for the grant under the existing terms.

Strategic Implications for Schools and Trusts 

This policy change signifies a strategic shift towards encouraging schools to adopt a more collaborative, community-led approach to conversion. By incentivising the formation or joining of larger groups, the DfE aims to foster a stronger, more cohesive educational ecosystem. In their communication on the matter, The Confederation of School Trusts (CST) said it has sought assurance that there will be sufficient operational capacity to manage the expected increase in conversions.

For schools not part of a larger group or with no plans join one, this policy update underscores the importance of acting swiftly to access the conversion grant under the current criteria. It also highlights the DfE's intention to support a strategic, integrated approach to school conversion, ensuring that the benefits of academy status are accessible to a wider range of institutions.

PAG Support 

PAG has more experience than most when it comes to academies and academisation, having worked at the heart of sector since the very beginning. In that time we have successfully supported a large number of schools to convert to academy status, form MATs, or join existing MATs and would be delighted to support you too.

Whether you need support with your grant application, help identifying and engaing with suitable partners, or an experienced advisor to lead you through the process with ease, we can help.

Simply use the Contact page to get in touch and we'll arrange a call shortly.