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Strategic School Improvement Fund – Round Two

Posted by Natercia Hughes on September 13, 2017

Strategic School Improvement Fund - Round Two

The second round of the Strategic School Improvement Fund is now open.

The £140 million Strategic School Improvement Fund (SSIF) is a grant to support infant, primary, secondary, middle, all-through, alternative provision, special academies, maintained schools and pupil referral units.

SSIF is intended to further build a school-led system and aims to target resources at the schools most in need to improve school performance and pupil attainment; to help them use their resources most effectively and to deliver more good school places. It is not intended to support specific projects or activities already funded through other Department for Education (DfE) programs.

The fund will support a broad range of school improvement activities including, but not limited to, improving leadership, governance, teaching methods and approaches and financial health and efficiency. The fund will support medium- to long-term sustainable activities across groups of schools with a preference towards school-led provision, that is support, provided by schools for schools.

Teaching schools, multi-academy trusts and local authorities should submit to the DfE applications for funding to address local improvement priorities across groups of schools. To ensure that support reaches those schools which need it most, in the most effective way, the DfE expect that in shaping these applications; regional school’s commissioners, multi-academy trusts, local authorities, the Teaching School’s Council and diocesan representatives will work collaboratively in sub-regional improvement boards and with schools to bring together their local intelligence to identify shared improvement priorities.

The DfE has recommended that each application supports a minimum of 4 schools, of which at least 70% must meet one or more of the eligibility criteria.

Eligible schools will be those which are currently underperforming, as well as schools at risk of doing so. Where applications are solely in support of special schools, pupil referral units and alternative provision units, the 70% threshold does not apply because the needs of these schools are not always apparent from performance data.

One of the main criteria for assessing applications will be how well the applications are supported by evidence. This must demonstrate why the proposed improvement approaches are expected to drive up standards in schools.

The DfE have issued guidance on how to create a strong, evidence-based application for the SSIF, which can be found via this link.

As well as being able to apply to support schools within their trust, multi-academy trusts can also apply to support schools intending to join the trust during the lifetime of the improvement program, but only when:

  • at least 25% of supported schools in any one application are not in the MAT or not due to be; or,
  • for applications in support of more than 20 schools, there is a minimum of 5 schools not in the MAT or not due to be.

In both cases the schools not in the MAT, or not due to be, must meet the eligibility criteria. For the purposes of this criteria, the DfE are defining ‘due to be’ as the supported school’s governing body having passed a resolution to join the MAT.

All applications for the Strategic School Improvement Fund must be submitted using the  online form.  Guidance on how to complete an application can be found here .

Applications will close at midday on Friday 20 October 2017. Applicants should expect to be informed of the outcome of their applications in January 2018.

Terms of reference for the Strategic School Improvement Fund sub-regional improvement boards can be found here .

There will be a third round of funding to open before Christmas 2017, with a closing date in spring 2018.

Should you have any questions please contact your usual Bishop Fleming representative.