The CIF fund is hugely oversubscribed each year and unfortunately, not all bids can be approved. In the 2020/21 round, the Department for Education (DfE) initially awarded £434m for 1,476 projects at 1,243 academies, sixth-form colleges and non-diocesan voluntary aided schools in England. This was out of a total of more than £1.45 billion for applications of over 4650 projects. In an unusual step, the DfE later announced funding for another £182m to fund 580 projects which narrowly missed the threshold in June 2020. Despite this, there were still 56% of projects that were applied for that were not granted.
If your school was one that missed out in this year’s funding round, there are steps that can be taken to improve your chances for the 2021/22 round. Lea Hough are able to review previous unsuccessful CIF bids and provide advice on what to do next. The options are:
Due to the small number of bids that are successful at the appeal stage, many schools take the decision that it would be best to revise their bid and submit it in the next round of applications. The next time schools will be able to apply for CIF funding will be during next year’s round (exact dates are still to be announced for this year, but usually open in the autumn).
All CIF bids receive feedback via the bid portal, so this is the first place to start. The threshold score for having a bid approved is over 76%, with the most significant percentage of the score being available for the justification for project need. We have worked with a number of academy schools and sixth form colleges who have been unsuccessful in previous rounds, but that we have been able to re-apply and achieve a successful outcome. Our specialist team have several years of experience in this area and know the best way in which to present projects in the application process, including providing detailed specialist reports and a sufficient level of evidence.
Depending on the nature of the project, there may be other funding pots that can be applied for. The criteria for each type of funding tends to be narrow but our team have experience in advising and preparing applications on behalf of schools across a variety of funding sources, so can help schools identify projects that may be suitable.
Academy schools and sixth form colleges only have a narrow window in which to appeal the decision made by the DfE. This is now closed for 2020/21. However, for information, schools should know for future rounds that in a small number of cases, appealing is possible. It should be noted that the number of projects that win funding through appeal is very low and the DfE will only reverse their decision where applicants can demonstrate that a material error has been made in the assessment of their application.
Lea Hough are able to offer a Free Audit of your bid so that you can apply the insights in future applications.
If you have been unsuccessful with a CIF bid in recent years and would like us to review it free of charge and provide advice on the next steps for applying for 2021/22, please contact us.