The government has published their response to the consultation which looked at extending the risk protection arrangement (RPA) currently operational for academy trusts (ATs), to the local authority maintained school (LAMS) sector. The response confirms that approval has been given to extend RPA to local authority maintained schools (LAMS) from 1 April 2020, following changes to the school and early years finance regulations. This will be a voluntary scheme for LAs and their schools and is intended to widen the offering of risk protection cover.
The cost of the RPA for academies for 2019/20 is £18 per pupil and it is proposed that LAMS would pay the same amount. LAMSs that join the RPA will be charged an amount per pupil/place for the number of days during the financial year 2020-21 that they are a member.
The Department began the RPA for academies on 1 September 2014, on an opt-in basis, as an alternative to commercial insurance. The RPA is not an insurance scheme but is a mechanism through which the cost of risks will be covered by government funds. It was intended to help reduce the cost to the public purse of protecting academies against risk. The DfE administer the arrangement, supported by external advisors and third-party suppliers who provide services including claims handling and risk management. The government intends to seek to develop aspects of the RPA with local authority schools in mind so that it complements the arrangements currently embedded.
The government suggests there would be several options for LA schools to become members of the RPA:
- An LA could opt-in all maintained primary and/or secondary schools to the RPA en masse on the vote of the schools' forum. Provision will be made (in the Schools and Early Years Finance Regulations 2020) to provide LAs with the ability to deduct the membership fees from the budget shares of all such schools.
- Individual governing bodies of schools may also decide to join the RPA if they are free to procure their own insurance: in that case the LA will apply a formula factor set out in the regulations to deduct the membership fee. This arrangement will apply to any maintained nursery schools, special schools and pupil referral units that join the RPA.
- The governing bodies of LAMS are able to opt-out of LA arrangements. However, where a school is tied into a Long Term Agreement (LTA) negotiated by the LA, they may be obliged to wait until it expires or can negotiate an early release.
- Church academies are only permitted to join the RPA if they have written approval from their trustees. This would also apply to church LAMS.
It is acknowledged that in most maintained schools the LA will retain ownership of school property and the associated liabilities relating to providing an education service, staff employment and property maintenance and will need to be satisfied with the overall risk cover that a school has in place.
You can access further information about RPA, what it does and does not cover, as well how schools can join here (further details for LA schools will be updated at the end of February 2020).
First published 29 January 2020