Exclusive: Most MAT leaders want more DfE support

Survey shows that almost nine out of 10 trust leaders also feel that the accountability system stops them innovating

A new survey has revealed that the majority of MAT leaders say they need more support from the DfE.

The majority of leaders and headteachers in multi-academy trusts say they do not get enough support from the Department for Education and their regional schools commissioners (RSCs), a new survey has revealed.

The research found that 62 per cent of school leaders felt they needed more DfE support to be an effective trust.

And more than half also said they wanted more backing from RSCs.


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The findings have been released today by The Key school leaders’ information service to coincide with the launch of its new support service, The Key for Trust Leaders – which will showcase practice from across the academy sector – and ahead of the launch of its report into the challenges faced by MATs.

The Key questioned more than 170 academy trust leaders.  

The research, carried out with organisational development consultancy Forum Strategy, also reveals that 46 per cent of those surveyed said they only feel “somewhat well-prepared” in their ability to make the right strategic decisions across their trust.

And almost nine in 10 (89 per cent) believe “the threat of accountability inhibits innovation across their trust to an extent”.

On a more positive note, The Key says its findings also highlight widespread collaboration between MATs.

Of those questioned, 87 per cent of trust leaders said they “regularly collaborated with other trusts to establish best practice”.

Last year, the former national schools commissioner David Carter said that the most successful MATs were those that worked with other schools outside of their organisation.

The Key survey questioned 179 school leaders and MAT chief executives at the end of the last academic year.

“There’s no blueprint for trust leadership – in many cases, leaders are in new roles and breaking new ground with an acute sense of accountability," said The Key’s chief operating officer, Richard Jewell.

“The development of The Key for Trust Leaders has introduced us to some extraordinary leaders doing extraordinary things – our role is to ensure that the best ideas from the maintained and academy sectors are crossing the chasm and that leaders in every setting are inspired to take meaningful action.” 

The DfE has been approached for comment.

Earlier this week, a thinktank report written by a former DfE adviser called on ministers to end the academies programme and move to a system in which all state schools had the same status.

Tom Richmond’s EDSK report also recommended that local councils be enabled to run trusts in the same model as MATs, and that schools should have the power to move between trusts.

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