- What is a multi-academy trust?
A multi-academy Trust (MAT) is one academy trust which governs a group of schools through a single set of members and directors. Each school will continue to have an advisory body which the MAT can choose to constitute as a local governing body to which it certain functions can be delegated. The MAT will ultimately be accountable and responsible for the performance of schools in the chain. Funding to the schools within the MAT continues to be allocated on an individual academy basis. Funding is governed through a master funding agreement between the Secretary of State and the MAT and a supplemental agreement between the Secretary of State and each school within the MAT. Having a single trust governing all schools results in there only being one employer for all staff which allows the moving of resources through schools in the chain. Some MATs operate so that, to the extent that this is permitted through the funding agreement, some of the individual school’s budget is combined and used to fund shared services such as contracts. This helps the chain to achieve economies of scale and can be particularly beneficial for primary schools.
- Why would a school want to convert as part of a multi-academy trust?
A MAT, as a single legal entity, allows schools to achieve strong collaboration and to use this collaboration and accountability to drive up school standards. Where there are underperforming schools in the chain, representation on the trust can ensure there is sufficient challenge and support to turn those schools around. The MAT can also agree to delegate as much or as little power down to the advisory bodies or local governing bodies of the schools involved, which again allows each MAT to define where power should sit according to the circumstances of the schools involved. Having the MAT as employer of staff also allows flexibility around sharing resources to meet the needs of the individual schools involved. It can help build better staff development across the chain by providing scope for academies to develop their staff with exchange schemes and provide more job opportunities and shared professional development. The MAT can also provide a clear, consistent strategy and vision across a group of schools working together. MATs can often negotiate contracts and services that achieve much better value for money than if each school was to negotiate individually.