To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their estimate of the total cost of converting maintained schools to academy status through sponsorship or other means from March 2022 to December 2030; and what is their expectation of the average cost of converting each school to academy status.
The average costs of converting maintained schools to academy status will vary significantly by project and based on the different approaches taken with partners, including whether the conversion is via the sponsored or converter route. The approach taken will depend on the circumstances of the school at the time.
The department has a range of existing grant regimes to support schools to convert in a variety of circumstances. For sponsored academy projects, pre-opening grant funding is available, supporting pre-opening costs such as staff recruitment, project management, legal advice, and any other school improvement interventions, helping to improve pupil outcomes. Funding values vary depending on the type of school, ranging from £70,000 to £150,000. Converter academies are eligible to apply for the £25,000 support grant, following approval of the conversion application.
Additionally, the department is investing up to £86 million over the next three years in building trust capacity, focused particularly in Education Investment Areas where pupil outcomes are weakest, and within these, Priority Education Investment Areas. The Trust Capacity Fund helps trusts take on underperforming schools for defined growth projects which have been approved by a regional director. Regional directors will engage local partners to determine the best way to develop a strong trust landscape that suits their area.
Being part of a strong trust can also unlock financial benefits. By centralising operational and administrative functions, schools within a multi-academy trust can save time and money. This can then be reinvested directly into the areas which have the greatest impact on children’s outcomes, including unlocking capacity to support weaker schools.