During the spring term of 2017 2 meetings were held in NW London and one in Manchester regarding the Multi Academy Trust and alternative ways of collaboration,. 

What is a Multi Academy Trust?

A multi-academy trust (MAT) is a single entity established to undertake a strategic collaboration to improve and maintain high educational standards across a number of schools. A group of schools or organisation form a single MAT which has overarching responsibility for their governance.

The Pros' and Con's of MATS

There are clear advantages to the MAT structure. Undoubtedly, the formal structure allows more school to school support so that weaker or smaller schools can benefit from the experience and skills evident in stronger or larger schools.

MATs also encourage economies of scale in shared services such as finance and administration and the academies within the MAT can often negotiate preferable contracts and services, improving value for money. The trust itself is the employer of all the staff, rather than the individual academies. This makes it far easier to transfer staff resources across all academies within the trust.

However, whilst there are advantages, the MAT structure it is not for everyone; there are also risks. There is a danger that as the MAT grows it may become increasingly difficult to ensure consistent systems and procedures are applied across the trust. Directors of the trust, who have ultimate responsibility for governance matters, may feel that it is difficult to take on this responsibility for schools that they have had no day-to-day involvement with.

On request of their member schools, NAJOS is investigating into the viability of setting up a MAT to serve the needs of its schools across the country.

The MAT is accountable for the performance of each school in the group, although each can still have their own governing body which operates subject to delegation of power from the MAT. A master funding agreement with the MAT, and supplemental funding agreements with each individual school, is signed by the Secretary of State for Education.

What happens if we're part of a MAT?

If your academy is part of a MAT, all staff will be employed by one employer and the trust can share the additional reporting responsibilities required of an academy. 

Committee Structure

MATs can adopt various structures. The Board of Directors, or Trustees, will sit at the top with ultimate responsibility for the governance of the trust. Commonly this board of directors will comprise key individuals from the larger academies within the trust.

However, this does not necessarily have to be the case. One academy, perhaps the largest or best performing, will often be deemed to be the MAT sponsor, and may be granted the right to appoint the majority of directors. This will be decided at the point the MAT is formed and your solicitors will be able to provide advice and draw up suitable articles.

The directors are accountable to the members, who have certain rights under company law. Subject to the articles, the members generally have powers to appoint directors to the board. Trust members should be individuals, or corporate sponsors, who intend to be involved for the longer term.

It would be commonplace for an Executive Headteacher, or Chief Executive, to be appointed as one of the directors.

The board may choose to establish various committees, for example:

•   Audit committee: most MATs, other than those consisting of a low number of small primary schools, will find they are obliged to have an audit committee to comply with the Financial Handbook;

•   Finance committee: perhaps incorporating personnel, pay and performance;

•   Education standards committee.

Most MATs then have their own Local Governing Body (LGB) which is responsible for making day to day decisions at their academy, of course with support from the academy’s Headteacher and Senior Leadership Team.

The amount of responsibility delegated to the LGB and the Senior Leadership Team would normally be set out in terms of reference. It is key to establish and agree a balance between central direction and local autonomy whilst ensuring that across the trust there are common systems and procedures where required.