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In late September last year, the CIF for 2016 & 2017 was announced, with information for applicants published the month after. This was great news for academies, sixth forms and public schools wanting to become academies, as it gave them time to sort out their forms and apply before the deadline in December.
But what is an academy? What is CIF and how does it benefit academies?In late September last year, the CIF for 2016 & 2017 was announced, with information for applicants published the month after. This was great news for academies, sixth forms and public schools wanting to become academies, as it gave them time to sort out their forms and apply before the deadline in December.
But what is an academy? What is CIF and how does it benefit academies?
What Is An Academy?
An academy is a school that is publicly funded and works outside of local authority (For example: local councils). This gives academies more freedom as far as curriculum, finances and conditions stand, however the biggest difference is the method in which they are funded. Academies take funding directly from government as opposed to councils, which means that no money is held back in comparison to public schools.
That being said: admissions, exclusions and special education needs still need to complete the same requirements (with 4-10% of the academy budget being for special education needs).
The Labour Government under Tony Blair originally established Academies, known as Sponsored Academies through the Learning and Skills Act 2000. The idea was to improve struggling schools, especially in deprived areas.
By 2010 there was only 203 schools that had converted into Academy status and with the Government coalition of May 2010, the ideas of Academies changed.
The Academies act 2010 was introduced enabling maintained schools to convert to academy status known as Converter Academies allowing more academies to appear across the UK (except Wales). In 2011 the number of academies had increased to 1,070, 2012 saw numbers reach 1,957 and , in November 2013 it stood at 3,444.
Last year (2015) it was recorded that there were 4,676 academies open in England alone, with hundreds more lined up to be converted. Types Of Academies
There are two types of academies: traditional and converters. Traditional academies are underperforming schools already in place that are then taken on by a sponsor (These are often taken on by business sponsors, educational charities or by other schools). Academy converters on the other hand are schools that were already performing highly, but decide to turn to the control of the local authorities in the name of independence.
There is also an MAT academy, which is an abbreviation for: Multi Academy Trust. This is basically where there are multiple academies under one trust rather than a single academy, which often means that there are more governing tiers in comparison.What’s The Difference?
The biggest difference between academies and public schools is the method of funding and the freedom for curriculum. Where academies are privately sponsored (often by: businesses, faith & voluntary groups, universities, colleges, etc), they have control over most of the curriculum, however it is imperative that they still teach the three core subjects: English, Maths & Science.What is CIF?
CIF stands for Condition Improvement Fund, which is used in order to improve the quality of academies (whether it be expanding the current space or giving it a new lick of paint). Most of the funding used is to take on critical issues within the current academy space, often relating to terrible education conditions or issues that compromise health and safety.
Examples of these necessities include: fire health & safety, issues with asbestos, electrical & gas dangers, etc.Key Dates, Deadlines & Features:
Milestones
Dates
CIF 2016 to 2017 announced
24 September 2015
CIF information for applicants published
22 October 2015
Online application form opens
22 October 2015
Registration deadline for new applicants
5pm 2 December 2015
Deadline for submitting applications
12 noon 16 December 2015
Date for notifying applicants of outcomes
March/April 2016
‘There are three categories of CIF project. Projects may be re-categorised if they do not meet the qualification criteria for the selected category:
Condition project – to improve the condition of a school building, with no expansion of the gross internal floor area (GIFA)
Condition with expansion project – to improve the condition of a school building, where the GIFA of the new block is up to 10% larger than the previous block (due to meeting current area standards as defined by Building Bulletin 103 or relevant building regulations) and the project does not add new functional areas or facilities. Additional information to explain the reason for the expansion will be required within the application form
Expansion project – for additional places or to address overcrowding in high performing schools where the GIFA of the new block is more than 10% larger than the previous block or adds functional areas or facilities. Where a project is re-categorised to an expansion and the supplementary data is not available (please see expansion section of the guidance), the application may be penalised’
Source: Gov.uk,. “Condition Improvement Fund – Detailed Guidance – GOV.UK”. N.p., 2014. Web. 17 Feb. 2016.
Extra facilitation will require justification from the academies, for extra rooms such as breakout areas and staffrooms (which is stated within the application form for the CIF). The funding for the new CIF projects also depend on the school’s type (primary, secondary, college, etc).
‘Projects must aim to improve a capital asset held in freehold or on a long lease, used for education provision for pupils between the ages of 2 and 19 years.The project thresholds for CIF 2016-17 are:
School Type
Minimum Project Threshold
Maximum Project Threshold
Primary and special schools
£20,000
£4,000,000
Secondary, all-through and sixth form colleges
£50,000
£4,000,000
Information and communication technology (ICT) hardware or software, loose furniture and equipment are ineligible. ICT infrastructure (cabling, wireless and switching) is only eligible insofar as it is an integral part of a larger refurbishment or new build project.’ Source: Gov.uk,. “Condition Improvement Fund – Detailed Guidance – GOV.UK”. N.p., 2014. Web. 17 Feb. 2016.

However CIF does have limitations in terms of how many projects can be taken on with the funding. Colleges and academies are limited to two projects per one academy, however if it is an expansion that is needed them there can only be one project in place. These projects are submitted through what’s known as the CIF Portal.Eligibility
The following excerpts are from Gov.uk regarding the eligibility details for CIF:

‘Single academy trusts, smaller multi-academy trusts (MATs) and sixth-form colleges can apply for CIF. To be eligible to apply, you must:
be an open academy or sixth-form college as at 1 November 2015
be a school with a signed academy order as at 1 November 2015 (if successful, you must have converted to academy status and have a funding agreement in place by 31 March 2016 to receive funding)
Multi-academy trusts (MATs) with at least 5 academies and more than 3,000 pupils will not need to apply. They will receive a formulaic allocation to deploy strategically across their estate for 2016 to 2017.’
Source: Gov.uk,. “Condition Improvement Fund – Detailed Guidance – GOV.UK”. N.p., 2014. Web. 17 Feb. 2016.

For 2016 to 2017, we also intend to offer a formulaic allocation to academy chains with at least 5 academies and more than 3,000 pupils, when their academies in different trusts are included. If you are an academy chain and think you may be eligible, please contact us using the details below.
Whether academies need to revamp their current space because they feel it is becoming redundant, or whether they are expanding further to allocate a new influx of student, it’s beneficial they spend their CIF wisely. For more information on transforming and maximising your current school space, check out our blog relating to the subject here.For your very own school refurbishment, contact us at 0333 600 1234 or email us at refurb@rapinteriors.co.uk