This week’s blog comes from our expert contributor, Veale Wasbrough Vizards (VWV), on the subject of MAT formation.
Those readers who have recently seen presentations by the Schools Commissioner Frank Green, will know that the current political focus is firmly placed on school collaboration and the expansion of the multi-academy trust (MAT) model. This follows on from the clear messages contained in the Education and Adoption Bill.
The Chancellor’s recent speech regarding the spending review, which was delivered on the 25 November 2015, also talked of the government’s agenda for completing the ‘academy revolution’, which will, we are told, see all schools become academies and consign LA control of schools to the past.
Inevitably, a rapidly increasing number of schools, existing MATs and academies are running with this agenda, and will continue to do so over the next four years.
When formulating plans for establishing or expanding an MAT, you may want to start thinking about the following:
- Who do you want to work with: strong schools or underperforming schools? Do you need to apply for sponsor status to work with those schools?
- If you’re thinking of joining an MAT, what does it look like? What are its visions and ethos? What is its financial position? What does the MAT have to offer your school?
- Are you clear on how funding works in an MAT, including that funding can be pooled and that the board of trustees is financially responsible for all academies within it?
- If you’re starting an MAT or expanding an MAT, will you appoint a CEO? If you don’t, what will the ‘executive team’ look like, and who will be the accounting officer?
- Will the MAT provide central services? What is the corresponding top slice?
- What level of responsibility will your school’s local governing body have?
For sponsors, often the practical questions are around capacity to cope with expansion, geographical locality, similar age ranges of pupils and logistical considerations, such as whether staff can travel to different locations fairly easily so that they are on hand to share expertise and drive school improvement.
After the MAT is formed and functioning, minds will turn to issues such as harmonisation of staff terms and conditions, procurement and cost efficiencies and, increasingly, staff restructuring. The governance arrangements will also need to be revisited periodically as the MAT expands, to ensure that the structure is fit for purpose. Similarly, the structure of the senior leadership team and operational management functions, including the finance director, school business manager, estates and HR, will need to be considered.
All of the above demonstrates that MAT formation and expansion is ultimately a strategic journey, which requires a host of roles, personalities, skills and knowhow, in order to be achieved successfully.
To find out more about MAT formation and expansion, ask your master user to submit a ‘Need Further Help?’ enquiry via our online form; alternatively, to discuss your plans for MAT development or to find out how VWV’s lawyers can support your plans, contact Yvonne Spencer on 020 7665 0872, or Jaime Parkes on 0121 227 3703.