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SATs edged out of £25k academy grant as MATs profit

Schools choosing to convert to academies will no longer be able to access a £25,000 grant unless they join or form a multi-academy trust.

The move comes amid a national push for larger trusts to help protect the most vulnerable schools from financial peril.

Schools that choose to convert to an academy – known as academy converters – have been able to get the grant to help pay for associated costs like legal advice and re-branding.

However, in an update released this afternoon, officials said: “[The grant] will continue to be paid only to schools approved to join or form a trust as part of a group of three or more schools.”

Despite this, special and AP schools “will continue to be eligible to receive it as part of a single-school conversion process”.

The cash is handed to schools shortly after their conversion bids are given the go-ahead by regional directors.

It appears to be the latest move by the DfE to pull the few levers it has to limit the number of single-academy trusts.

Last March, ministers published plans – dubbed “trust development statements” – to expand or launch new MATs in 55 “education investment areas”, which have the nation’s weakest results.

At the time, the government said the documents “clearly signpost” the types of “growth project we want to encourage” to improve outcomes in each EIA.

Schools Week analysis of government data earlier this month showed the number of SATs in the EIAs has dropped by 13 per cent between March 2023 and January 2024 .

National falls stood at eight per cent over the same period, dropping from 1241 to 1136.

Those wanting to leave local authority control under the current eligibility criteria for the grant should register their interest by April 26 and apply by June 7.

Regional directors must have greenlit it before the changes come into place on September 1.

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