Financial year 2020-21

Academy transfers and funding

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About this release 

This statistics publication analyses the number of academies that have moved trusts from the financial year 2013-14 to 2020-21 and the total grant funding provided. It also compares the reason that academies move trust. 

The following ancillary table is available to download from this release:

List of all academies transfers during financial years 2013-14 to 2020-21 and how much grant funding was provided to each. 

The above table can be found under ‘Other files’ in the ‘Explore data and files’ section.

When reviewing the tables, please note that the grant funding figures have been rounded to the nearest £100.

Headline facts and figures - 2020-21

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Additional supporting files

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Number of academy transfers

A total of 1,365 academy transfers took place between the eight financial years 2013-14 to 2020-21. Of these, 348 (25%) received grant funding for the transfer. The number of academy transfers has increased from 21 in financial year 2013-14, to 189 in 2020-21. This represents an increase from 0.5% of all open academies in England in 2013-14, to 2.0% in 2020-21. More detail is available in Table 1 below.

Grant funding provided

In the financial year 2013-14, total grant funding of £566,000 was provided for academy transfers. This increased to over £4.2 million in financial year 2015-16. This increase in grant funding is driven by an increase in the number of academies transferring trusts over these years. 

In the financial year 2016-17, total grant funding was £8.4 million. This decreased to about £7.6 million in 2017-18. This further decreased to just under £3.2 million in the financial year 2019-20. But increased to £4.0 million in the financial year 2020-21. The grant funding provided has decreased from 2016-17 to 2020-21 whilst more academies have transferred during those years, due to fewer academies requiring grant funding to complete the transfer. More detail can be found in Table 2. 

The total grant funding provided to academy transfers in financial years 2016-17 to 2020-21 are not comparable with earlier years due to differences in what it has been possible to include in the total costs compiled (see Technical Information). 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 2020-21 which have not yet joined a new academy trust. It is not possible to calculate an average payment per financial year as some trusts can receive grant funding for an academy over several years.

Reason for academy transfers

Out of the 189 academy transfers in 2020-21, 118 (62%) were initiated by the outgoing Trust, 29 (15%) were transferred due to sponsor or Trust closure and 42 (22%) transfers were due to intervention. Intervention cases may occur following an Ofsted Inadequate judgement, or where there are financial, governance or safeguarding failures.

Technical Information

Academy transfers 

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 ( (opens in a new tab).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
  • Redundancies
  • Costs of undertaking due diligence

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Official statistics

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