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Expanding academy trusts risk losing connections with communities, governors warn

National Governance Association calls for the membership of multi-academy trusts to be broadened

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National Governance Association calls for the membership of multi-academy trusts to be broadened

Multi-academy trusts risk losing their connections with the communities they serve as they grow, school governors have warned Justine Greening.

In a letter sent to the education secretary today, Emma Knights, chief executive of the National Governance Association, called for the Department for Education to broaden the members who control multi-academy trusts (MATs).

Ms Knights wrote: “We suggest it is time to debate seriously the legitimacy of new models of school governance and ensure there is not a growing divide between those who have the power and are making the decisions about the use of public funding and those in local communities who can feel powerless and ignored.”

She cited the risk that as MATs grow, trustees lose connections with local communities, parents, pupils and staff, and said the formation of MATs from single schools “has created a transfer of power and autonomy away from individual school governing bodies to boards of MAT trustees, which are often small in number”.

Her letter warned that this “fundamental change in school governance” has not been widely discussed, and “is not even well understood”.

She called for transparency and honesty about “the risks associated with these models, while at the same time acknowledging the advantages that groups of schools can bring”.

Ms Knights has previously branded some high pay levels awarded to MAT CEOs as “a failure of governance”, and questioned why some governing bodies had not held school leaders to account for children who have “disappeared” from their roles in alleged attempts to improve their league table positions. 

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