Sponsor capacity fund
Who is eligible and how academy trusts should apply.
The sponsor capacity fund (SCF) supports eligible academy trusts that need additional funding to take on schools. This includes academy trusts with an open free school or a free school in the pre-opening stage.
The SCF is a grant of usually between £50,000 and £100,000. In exceptional circumstances, it may be higher or lower.
You should use the funding to:
- set up or expand your academy trust and its organisational structures, including legal costs - you may be able to use the money to cover recent costs you’ve already incurred
- pay for IT infrastructure related to setting up the trust, including data reporting and finance packages
- develop and prepare the leadership team so your trust can grow
- employ staff for the trust
- bring in educational experts
- provide accountancy, finance, business management or HR advice
You can’t use this funding to pay for the running costs of schools in or joining your trust.
Regional schools commissioners (RSCs) award the funding.
You’ll be eligible for SCF funding if your academy trust:
- is an approved academy sponsor (or is in the process of becoming one), or has an open free school (or one in the pre-opening stage)
- intends to take on at least 1 school in the coming 12 months - this can be a:
Please note that only approved academy sponsors can take on sponsored academies.
You can apply to become an academy sponsor at the same time as you apply for this funding.
When assessing your application, 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
- how sponsoring academies or running free schools fits in with your wider activities
- whether your plans for expanding 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
In addition to these assessment criteria, RSCs will prioritise applications that meet the specific needs in their region. Contact your RSC to find out more.
To apply for the SCF, you need to:
- Contact the RSC office for the area you’re proposing to work in to discuss your application.
- Following this discussion, complete the application form and submit it to the SCF mailbox by the deadline.
Sponsor capacity fund mailbox
Deadline for applying
The deadline for submitting applications is 31 July 2016.
Note that RSCs may not wait until the deadline to start approving applications. They may wish to assess and approve applications as they receive them.
For this reason, we encourage you to contact the RSC office relevant to where you plan to work and start the application process as soon as possible.
RSCs will tell applicants the outcome of their application no later than March 2017.
If your application is successful, we’ll send you a grant offer letter that will include the terms and conditions relating to the SCF.
If the relevant RSC has agreed, we’ll only send you the grant offer letter if:
- your academy sponsor application has been successful
- you’ve met any other conditions the RSC has set
We’ll only make payments to your academy trust. If you’re still in the process of setting up your academy trust and you haven’t opened a bank account yet, we’ll hold back the payment until the bank account is open.
We’ll send payments by bank transfer (BACS) in 1 instalment.
Return of payment
Your RSC may ask you to return the grant if:
- no school joins your trust after you’ve received the funding
- you haven’t met your RSC’s conditions for getting the funding
Published: 30 April 2014
Updated: 26 May 2016
- Updated guidance with the latest assessment criteria and deadline for applying.
- Updated current bidding round information and application deadline to 29 February 2016.
- Updated with details of an extra bidding round for the South East and south London region.
- The extra bidding round application deadline for sponsors working in the South East and south London has passed.
- Added details of an extra bidding round for academy sponsors working in the South East and south London.
- Updated for the 2015 to 2016 fund and to reflect new eligibility requirements, deadlines and application procedures.
- Made updates for the new round of SCF funding, including the assessment criteria, priority areas, application process and application deadline.
- Updated the list of priority areas, the assessment criteria and the application form.
- First published.