In September 2020, we wrote to you explaining the reasons why and the circumstances in which you might consider updating your Funding Agreement documentation to the Department for Education's (the DfE) latest model.
Since our earlier article, the DfE has published a full suite of updated Funding Agreement documentation (dated December 2020), namely a new:
Master Funding Agreement for multi-academy trusts;
Supplemental Funding Agreement for multi-academy trusts: mainstream, special, 16 to 19 and alternative provision academies, free schools, and UTC and studio schools; and
Single Funding Agreement for single-academy trusts: mainstream, special, 16 to 19 and alternative provision academies, free schools, and UTC and studio schools.
Will My Academy Trust Be Required to Move on to the Latest DfE Models?
It is difficult to say what the DfE/ESFA will require in a particular instance but since the release of the new models in December 2020, we have seen academy trusts being required to adopt the latest model Funding Agreements by the DfE in the context of:
the conversion of a school to join the academy trust
the re-brokerage of an existing academy to join the academy trust
an age-range or capacity change
an in-year funding methodology change
adopting the latest model DfE Articles of Association.
In cases where a new school is joining a multi-academy trust and where the existing academies within the multi-academy trust are on documentation which predates the DfE's 2018 model, the DfE has expressed a strong preference that all academies in the group be updated to the 2020 model.
Academy trusts that are thinking about expansion in the near future, might prefer to voluntarily move forward with the adoption of the latest model Funding Agreement documentation for their existing academies (ahead of expansion). This might assist the expansion application submitted to the ESFA as well as ease the burden of the work to be carried out at the point of expansion.
Academy trusts might also want to consider updating their Funding Agreement documentation in the context of the DfE's Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) scheme. For the CIF 2021 to 2022 criteria, it again favours bids from applicants with strong governance and good financial management and we are aware that 'bonus points' have been awarded in the past to academy trusts whose existing academies are on the latest model Funding Agreement documentation.
DfE Policy Updates/Changes
There have been several updates/changes to the latest model Funding Agreement documentation since the previous versions from 2018, to name a few:
An additional sentence has been added to a current provision confirming that the stated age range of an academy does not prevent an academy from considering applications requesting that a child be admitted outside their normal age group. This confirms the statutory position as set out under the Schools Admissions Code.
There are amendments to the Teachers' Pension Scheme (TPS) provisions confirming (amongst other amendments) that an academy trust must ensure that only staff who predominantly carry out teaching work be enrolled in the TPS and that the Board of Trustees or Governors will need to give consideration to whether executive leaders meet the requirements.
There is a new provision requiring the academy trust to provide specified information (relating to pupils/parents as set out in the clause) to the local authority. Again, this confirms the position already set out in legislation.
Please be aware that for academy trusts operating on even earlier DfE Funding Agreement models, there are likely to be more updates/changes.
For an initial conversation about whether adopting the latest model Funding Agreement documentation is right for you, please contact Chloe Brunton on 07920 281889 or Rosie Phillips on 07384 115612 in our Academies team or complete the form below.