An academy transfer is when an academy moves from its current trust to another trust. An academy can change trust arrangements only with the agreement of the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) acting on behalf of the Secretary of State (prior to 2014 decisions were taken by the Secretary of State). The academy trust may apply to transfer an academy voluntarily – for example, a single academy trust may apply because it wants to benefit from the greater capacity and school improvement that is offered from being part of a trust that runs more than one academy; or the transfer may be initiated by the RSC because of concerns about the performance of the academy or the academy trust responsible for it.
Not all academy transfers are awarded grant funding. Transfer funding can be awarded on educational grounds, based on Ofsted ratings. In addition, since February 2019, academies transferring on governance and financial grounds could receive academy transfer grant funding.
The sponsored academy process, which began in the early 2000s, is now well established. The first transfer from one trust to another was carried out in 2012. Much like the early sponsored academies, funding for academy transfers was agreed on a case-by-case basis according to the particular circumstances and needs of the case.
As academies moving trust has become more systematically implemented, however, the process has changed to align more closely with that used for establishing sponsored academies. This includes establishing guidelines for academy transfer grant funding so that it is applied to academy transfer cases in a similar way to the academy transfer grant funding that is applied to sponsored academy projects.
These changes were introduced in Autumn 2016.
Academy transfer grant funding
The indicative academy transfer grant funding levels are currently: a basic, fast track level (£70,000 primary, £80,000 secondary); an intermediate level (£90,000 primary, £115,000 secondary) and a full level (£110,000 primary, £150,000 secondary). The amounts of the awarded grant are typically offset against any surplus that will transfer with the academy to the incoming sponsor trust. The grants tend to be paid to the incoming trust in one instalment rather than claimed annually, however on occasion some transfers will be paid in multiple instalments both before and after the academy is transferred to the incoming academy trust.
From February 2019, if the transfer is on financial or governance grounds then a grant of £25,000 can be considered as a contribution towards the costs of the transfer, such as legal costs.
The data in this release has been compiled by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and the Regional Delivery Directorate (RDD) within the Department for Education (DfE).
The figures in this publication are derived from the Academies Management Information System, and reflect the operational data that was held on this system as of June 2021. Amendments to this operational Management Information after this date will not be included in this publication. Therefore, revisions may be made to the previous year’s figures in future publications, should this operational data change.
Academies will only be listed in this publication if the academy trust transfer has concluded during that financial year which is being reported on (i.e. when a new funding agreement is entered into concluding an academy transfer). Therefore, in cases where trusts receive an advance payment ahead of the transfer concluding, the case will not be listed until it has concluded which could be in the next financial year. Where trusts receive payments over more than one year, the separate payments are shown in each financial year. This can mean that in the future year’s publications, revisions to the previous year’s figures are highly likely.
Academies operate under a strict system of oversight and accountability and RSCs require the incoming trust to provide details on how the academy transfer grant will be used and the impact that it is expected to have. They monitor the academy’s performance to ensure the necessary improvements are made and that value for money is achieved.
Academies may receive funding for transfer in the financial year that it joins a new trust or in the years pre- or post- a trust move. In this publication we are not including costs paid out to academies in 2019-20 which have not yet joined a new academy trust.
Following the publication of an ad-hoc statistical release in September 2017, a full data cleanse has been completed on management information relating to academies that have moved academy trust between financial years 2013-14 and 2016-17. Following this, some academies were excluded from the ad-hoc release which have now been included in this release: Academy trust transfers and grant funding - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).Therefore, numbers of academies moving trust will vary compared to the first publication.
Due to differences in the way data was recorded in legacy systems compared to the current system, the academy transfer grant funding for financial years 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015- 16 are not comparable with the academy transfer grant funding in financial years 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21. The academy transfer grant funding included for each financial year are set out below:
Financial years 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16
- Legal costs
- Environmental Improvement Grant
- ICT costs
- Project management support costs
- Financial management support
- Education consultancy costs
- Recruitment / training costs
- School Improvement Grant
- Sponsor Grant
- Staff restructure/redundancy costs
Activities excluded from funding were:
- Deficit payments
- Diseconomies of scale
Financial years 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21
- Leadership support, teaching and learning interventions, curriculum re-design, pupil-focused support
- Staff re-structuring
- Legal services relating to the transfer
- Communications and marketing support, including re-branding
- HR and recruitment services to support any TUPE process and senior leader appointments
- Financial management and advice to establish the academy trust’s finance and management information systems in the academy
Activity excluded from funding were:
- Deficit payments
- Diseconomies of scale
- Environmental improvement grant
- Capital costs e.g. ICT hardware, building works
- Costs of undertaking due diligence