Northern fund for academy sponsors

Which sponsors can apply for funding to take on more schools, and how to apply.

This guidance was withdrawn on

The application deadline for this funding has passed.

This competition for the northern fund (announced in 2014) gives academy trusts the chance to apply for extra funding that will allow them to take on more schools.

This is a separate competition to the one we ran in January 2016, which was for sponsors setting up new academy hubs. If you applied for the January competition and you also want us to consider you for this competition, you must submit a separate application.

We expect to give successful applicants of this competition a one-off payment of typically:

  • £25,000 for trusts made up of 1 or 2 schools
  • £50,000 to £100,000 for trusts made up of 3 or more schools

Please be aware, however, that we haven’t yet finalised the total funding available for this competition.

Two regional schools commissioners (RSCs) will award the funding:

Apply for the northern fund

The deadline for submitting an application is 22 February 2016.

To apply for the northern fund, you need to:

  1. Check that you are eligible - see the eligibility criteria for applying.
  2. Contact your region’s RSC office to discuss your application.
  3. Following this discussion, complete the application form and send it to the northern fund mailbox.

Northern fund mailbox


RSCs expect to tell applicants the outcome of their applications during the week commencing on 7 March 2016.

Payment process

If your application is successful, we’ll send you a grant offer letter that will include the terms and conditions of the funding.

If we award you funding, and you fail to comply with the conditions of the grant, we may ask you to return the grant.


To be eligible for the funding, you must:

  • be an approved academy sponsor working in, or in discussion with, the RSC office in Lancashire and West Yorkshire or the North of England
  • be willing to work in the eligible local authority areas
  • intend in the next 12 months to take on one or both of the following:
    • at least 1 underperforming school
    • at least 1 academy converter (ie a school that has chosen to become an academy), which would increase the academy trust’s ability to support underperforming schools
  • have a leadership team willing to take courses to improve their leadership skills, including at least 1 member of the trust’s senior leadership team taking a development course for chief executive officers

Eligible areas

Academy trusts applying for this funding must be willing to work in one of the following local authorities:

Lancashire and West Yorkshire:

  • Blackburn with Darwen
  • Blackpool
  • Bolton
  • Bradford
  • Bury
  • Calderdale
  • Halton
  • Kirklees
  • Knowsley
  • Lancashire
  • Leeds
  • Liverpool
  • Manchester
  • Oldham
  • Rochdale
  • Salford
  • Sefton
  • St Helens
  • Stockport
  • Tameside
  • Trafford
  • Wakefield
  • Warrington
  • Wigan
  • Wirral

North of England:

  • Cumbria
  • Darlington
  • Durham
  • Gateshead
  • Hartlepool
  • Middlesbrough
  • Newcastle upon Tyne
  • North Tyneside
  • North Yorkshire
  • Northumberland
  • Redcar and Cleveland
  • South Tyneside
  • Stockton-on-Tees
  • Sunderland

Assessment criteria

When assessing applications, RSCs will consider:

  • how many schools you’re planning to sponsor in the 12 months after your trust has received the funding
  • the aims of your organisation and your plans for growth
  • whether your plans for growth are realistic
  • how you propose to spend the funding and evidence that it will offer good value for money
  • your knowledge of the needs of the areas you’ll be working in

How to spend the funding

You can use the funding to:

  • expand your academy trust and its organisational structures, including the legal costs of doing that work
  • pay for the IT systems you’ll need to grow your trust, including data reporting and finance packages
  • hire administrative or educational staff for the trust
  • bring in educational experts
  • pay for the leaders of the trust to take leadership development courses
  • pay for external advice on the trust’s accountancy, finance, business management and human resources

You must not use this funding to cover the running costs of individual schools in, or joining, your trust.

Published 4 January 2016
Last updated 9 February 2016 + show all updates
  1. Revised to reflect that the competition for academy sponsors setting up new academy hubs has closed, and a new competition has opened that gives sponsors the chance to apply for extra funding to take on more schools.
  2. First published.