MATs: The Trust Capacity Fund

Posted by Ewa Jozefkowicz on Aug 23, 2019 2:24:54 PM

Money growth

The Trust Capacity Fund, announced last month by former education secretary Damian Hinds, is new for 2019/20, and will predominantly be for multi academy trusts to spend on growing. We outline what it covers, how much trusts can get and how to apply.

What the fund covers

Exactly what you can use this DfE funding for depends on which of the strands you're eligible for, from the following:



Amount available


Supporting ‘strong’ MATs to grow and innovate in areas of need

£50,000 to £310,000


Encouraging 'strong' trusts to grow by taking on and improving maintained schools or academies

£50,000 to £200,000


Accelerating the development of mid-sized trusts

£20,000 to £150,000


Creating new strong trusts through mergers of trusts or 'priority projects' identified by RSCs

£20,000 to £100,000

At the moment, it's not clear if there are specific actions or services you can spend the fund on to support the given 'purpose'. The eligibility checker tool says that: “All applications for funding will need to be linked to a project adding a school to a trust.”

Checking your eligibility

You can do this using the DfE's eligibility checker tool, available to download here.

Most of the data about your trust is automatically generated, so on the 'eligibility checker' tab you just need to select the name of your trust in the drop down menu. It'll say which strand(s) you're eligible for.

It's worth bearing in mind that:

  • There's a minimum size requirement for strand A (5+ schools), and strand B (3+ schools), but not strand C
  • All trusts with a current financial notice to improve are automatically ineligible
  • The data in this spreadsheet won't be updated - it's accurate at the time of publication, but is intended as a guide only

To be eligible for strand A, you also have to meet performance criteria

Not all trusts of 5 or more schools will be eligible for strand A. There are performance-based metrics for:

  • School improvement and Ofsted inspection outcomes
  • Progress (primary and/or secondary)
  • EBacc entries (secondary only)
  • Phonics (primary only)

The first 3 are all part of the automatically generated data, but phonics data needs to be added manually in the 'phonics metric tool' tab. There's more explanation of the standards to meet for each metric on the last tab of the spreadsheet.  

Applying for the fund

Applications open in September 2019, and close in December 2019. The forms will be available in August. Applications will be assessed in 2 stages.

Stage 1

You'll apply using the application forms, based on the criteria detailed above. You can be eligible for more than one strand, though it's unclear at the moment whether you can apply for multiple strands.

Stage 2

Regional schools commissioners (RSCs) will assess the application. Aside from your eligibility for the particular strand, they'll take into account:

  • Information their office already holds on your trust
  • The application for growth that you'll be using the funding for
  • Discussions with the relevant headteacher board (HTB)

They will use national guidelines and the assessment will be subject to national moderation, but we're still awaiting more details of what that looks like.


All of the information in this blog post is based on the DfE's guidance page on checking your eligibility for the fund, the spreadsheet accompanying the guidance or the press release announcing the fund. 

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Topics: MAT, academy, growth, expansion