The Department for Education has announced that the window is now open for applications for the Trust Capacity Fund (TCaF).
What is the TCaF?
The TCaF is a £27m fund to support the development and growth of academy trusts across England. It is open to existing Multi-Academy Trusts who are looking to expand or grow their operation. The aim of the fund is to:
- Support strong academy trusts across the country in providing assistance to communities and schools who are most in need of school improvement
- Provide high-potential academy trusts, who have emerging capacity to improve other schools, with funding to meet challenges associated with taking on more schools in different contexts. Ensuring they develop and deploy school improvement support quickly across the trust, and support collaboration between schools
- Support smaller academy trusts that wish to merge into existing or new academy trusts, creating new clusters of schools
There are 4 strands of funding. Applications should identify which strand they are applying for. There is a funding cap on each strand to give an idea of the likely size and cost of the project:
A1: (£50k to £310k) Supporting strong multi-academy trusts (MATs) to grow and innovate in areas of long-standing need
A: (£50k to £200k) Encouraging strong trusts to grow by converting and improving weaker maintained schools, or adding vulnerable academies to their trust and improving them
B: (£20k to £150k) Accelerating the development of mid-sized trusts with the potential to be strong
C: (£20k to £100k) 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 depending on the metrics of financial health, trust size, school improvement, progress, phonics attainment and English Baccalaureate (EBacc).
Who can apply?
Academy trusts who are operating without an open Financial Notice to Improve can use the TCaF Eligibility Checker spreadsheet to check which of the strands they may be eligible to apply to.
This is stage 1 of the application process. Stage 2 is the submission of a detailed application for funding and for growth, this is assessed by the relevant Regional Schools Commissioner.
How do I apply?
Detailed guidance can be found in the Trust Capacity Fund Information for Applicants guidance.
The Application Form has 2 parts, Section A – Organisational details and Section B – Application details. Section B is the longer section which requires detailed information on deliverability of the project, an action plan and timeline, value for money and sustainability statements and a summary breakdown of costs.
Trusts also need to complete the School Resource Management Self-Assessment Tool as part of their application, or to have completed it within the past 6 months.
The closing date for submission of completed applications is midday on 31/12/2019. All funded activities must be completed by 31st March 2020. Other milestone dates can be found in the guidance above.
Yes, TCaF funding cannot be used to support the following activities:
- Capital expenditures: spending on the purchase of assets (for example buildings, furniture, fittings)
- Any activity that was already underway prior to your proposal receiving RSC approval
- Any activities that the trust would otherwise be able to access free of charge
- Small amounts of time for pre-existing salaried staff (e.g. 1 hour of HR time)
- Foreign travel
- Any activities that could be funded from other sources
- Activities that are solely focused on improving any single school rather than the trust as a whole. The purpose of the grant is to strengthen the central capacity of trusts rather than individual schools.
What should I do now?
The timescales for the application are tight, so Trusts who are considering applying should start work now
1. Check eligibility on the online tool
2. Consider whether expansion is desirable and achievable and within their Trust’s current objectives
3. Seek approval for potential expansion form their Trust boards
4. Speak to their RSCs regarding priority projects identified in their area
5. Start considering the level of detail in the requirements from Section B of the application form.
6. Carry out detailed impact assessments, financial forecasts and contingency planning on their current schools to consider how growth might impact on their current operation and outcomes.
All DfE details and documents relating to the Trust Capacity Fund can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apply-to-the-trust-capacity-fund.
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