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Can you apply for the MAT Development and Improvement Fund?

Date published: Date modified: 2023-03-03

In order to provide additional funding to trusts to help improve schools and increase social mobility, the DfE has created the Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) Development and Improvement Fund (MDIF).

However, there are strict guidelines for what the funding can and cannot be used for, and what must be done in order to acquire it. In this blog, we aim to breakdown the requirements to provide an understanding of whether or not you should apply.

What is it?

The MDIF is a new funding round that aims to provide trusts with extra income to support activities that usually cost between £50,000 and £100,000 to help improve standards.

The activities must start before 31st March 2018, and successful applicants will be notified no later than this date.

Those awarded with the fund must then provide evidence of the activities effect on the school for 12 months after receiving the funding, and demonstrate how they will continue to pay for the activity once the funding has ended.

Applications for the funding MUST be submitted before 27th November 2017.

What activities are supported?

The MDIF has strict guidelines for what the trust can and cannot use it on. The funding can be used for:

  • Expanding or setting up your academy trusts and its organisational structures (which can include legal costs)
  • Establishing robust reporting mechanisms to monitor your pupil’s performance and identify gaps in the children’s development
  • Providing continuous reporting development training for the trust’s leadership team
  • Pay for your teaching and leadership staff to work across the trust
  • Provide accountancy, finance, business management or HR advice

The funding cannot be used for:

  • Paying the running costs of academies in or joining your trust
  • Carrying out external audits of your grant expenditure
  • Carrying out due diligence on projects you are looking to take on as part of academy conversation
  • Paying for improvements in the school’s or office buildings
  • Paying for marketing or publicity campaigns
  • Paying for targeted interventions of school improvements and other activities that are currently covered by the Strategic School Improvement Fund (SSIF).

When assessing your application, the Regional Schools Commissioners will follow specific criteria of 5 main areas:

  • School improvement
  • Evidence based work
  • Value for money
  • Ability to carry out the activities
  • Sustainability

Click here to see a breakdown of these 5 areas.

Who can apply?

All trusts, including those awaiting sponsor or trust approval, are eligible to apply for the funding, under the condition that they plan to undertake one of two actions:

  1. Take and improve at least 2 additional schools into your trust
  2. Form a multi-academy trust of 2 or more schools and improve them

IMPORTANT NOTE: You can still apply for the MDIF if you are receiving funding from the Strategic School Improvement Fund (SSIF), but your application must include a description about how this funding will be used to produce different results to the SSIF.

Even though all trusts can apply for this funding, the Regional Schools Commissioner will consider applications from trusts in priority areas first, and trusts who are planning to do one of the following:

  1. Take on and improve the standard of schools that need assistance raising attainment for disadvantaged pupils
  2. Take on and improve schools who have been rated ‘inadequate’ and ‘requires improvement’.

This does not mean that if you don’t fall into these criteria your application will be refused. In exceptional circumstances the Regional Schools Commissioner will consider applications that fall outside priority areas.


If you are planning to apply for the MAT Development and Improvement Fund, then click here to take a look at the application process and form

How can we help?

SAAF Education are experts in MAT set up and expansion. If you require guidance or support, please contact us. 

Contact Us


By Stuart Tongue
SAAF Education 340 110

9 November 2017



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