E guidance on academies risk protection arrangement updated

On 31 December 2014, the Department for Education (DfE) updated its general guidance on its risk protection arrangement (RPA) for academies and academy trusts. It also updated its guidance on membership rules, on 1 January 2015, to reflect the new version of the rules that govern membership of the RPA scheme.

The risk protection arrangement (RPA) for academy trusts is not an insurance scheme. It is an alternative to insurance where losses that arise are covered by UK government funds. It started on 1 September 2014 with 619 academy members and allows all academy trusts and multi-academy trusts (including free schools, schools designated with a religious character that are academies, special academies, alternative provision academies, university technical colleges, studio schools and Private Finance Initiative (PFI) schools) to opt into the arrangement. As of 1 December 2014 the RPA membership was 768. 

Studies of the schools insurance market have shown that if the risks are covered by the UK government, rather than insurance being taken out by individual academy trusts, then significant insurance costs could be saved. The RPA is designed to protect academy trusts against losses due to any unforeseen and unexpected event with the intention that it will cover the risks that are normally included in a standard schools insurance policy. 

At no additional cost, academy trusts can opt in to the scheme, before they convert or before their current insurance arrangements come to an end. The benefits of the scheme include significant cost savings for school budgets and the trusts that opt in to the RPA will avoid complex and time-consuming procurement of commercial insurance cover. 

The general guidance has now been updated with further information about risk management and members need to maintain a minimum standard of this. The DfE will also now select a sample of academy trusts for a full risk management audit to carry out a more in-depth review of risk management amongst academies.