Top slicing and GAG pooling in a multi-academy trust

The approach to top slicing can vary enormously, with some MATs using a flat line contribution, usually between 3%-5% of income, for all academies within the trust. Other MATs attempt to differentiate the top slice percentage to take into account the level of support each individual academy requires.

One approach, for MATs which do differentiate, is to charge varying percentages according to set criteria, for example the most recent Ofsted rating; the logic here is that outstanding or good academies are likely to require less support than a struggling school.

Another approach we have seen is for the central MAT to take the Education Service Grant income from individual academies.

There are usually disparities in funding and costs across individual academies, and these can be difficult to factor in. It is not uncommon for concerns over top slicing to cause friction within a MAT, and it right that individual academies clearly understand what they are getting for their money, and why they may be paying more or less than another academy in the same trust.

GAG pooling

An alternative option is the formal pooling of GAG income across the trust, which is now permitted by the latest EFA funding agreement. Pooling means that GAG income can be applied across any academy within the MAT. The advantage of pooling is that it can help to alleviate financial pressures in an individual academy, ironing out between periods of fluctuating income and expenditure.

Pooling does require the agreement of the member schools, however. GAG pooling has the potential to be even more contentious, and to date few MATs have gone down this route, but over time we may see more of these arrangements.

It is also worth noting that the trust must “have due regard to the funding needs and allocations of each individual academy and they must have an appeals mechanism in place.” Individual academies do have the right to appeal if they feel that they are being treated unfairly, internally initially, but with the option of taking this to the Secretary of State if their grievance cannot be resolved amicably.

If you are part of a MAT and concerned about your top slicing or GAG pooling arrangements, or would like to discuss the options open to you in more detail, and how these can affect you, please contact one of our academy school specialists at your nearest location.

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