Despite strong opposition from Buckinghamshire Council, other LAs, the unions and key stakeholders, the Department for Education announced in 2021 that the School Improvement Monitoring and Brokerage Grant, which has funded the Side by Side programme in Buckinghamshire since academic year 2017/18, is being reduced by 50% during financial year 2022/23 and stopped from the beginning of financial year 2023/24, resulting in no future grant funding for local authorities to undertake school improvement functions. In addition, the DfE clarified that the remaining grant monies should be focused on maintained schools.
Buckinghamshire Council have therefore reluctantly made the decision to start charging academies for Side by Side support. Whilst we strongly believe that school improvement support should be provided for all schools, regardless of status, this will no longer be possible without a consistent funding stream.
In line with the Department for Educations funding withdrawal, all Side by Side support for academies will be funded at 50% of cost for financial year 2022/23 only, following which all Side by Side funding for academies will be withdrawn. Academies engaging with Side by Side and receiving support up until 1st April 2023 are now being invoiced for 50% of the costs associated with delivered champion support. These charges are to cover the direct support costs only; no brokerage charges will apply.