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Nine ways in which expanding academy trusts have to change to succeed

New research identifies 'breakpoints' where MATs have to change

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New research identifies 'breakpoints' where MATs have to change

New research has identified nine ways in which expanding multi-academy trusts (MATs) have to change how they operate in order to be effective as they take on more schools.

The report has been published today by the charity Ambition School Leadership and has been produced by the education thinktank LKMco.

Ambition School Leadership chief executive James Toop said: "We know that the best MATs have great leaders who ensure schools achieve better outcomes by working together rather than independently. But our research suggests that what works well for a trust with two or three schools won’t necessarily work for a trust with ten or more." 

The nine “breakpoints” for expanding small and medium MATS are:

1. Accountability and oversight

The chief executive cannot line manage all the schools and the MAT needs new personnel and monitoring systems in order to retain oversight. 

2. Governance

The skills, expertise and membership of the board must evolve to keep pace with scale, demands and challenges of the trust.

3. Alignment

Chief executives must decide if new schools which join adopt the MAT-wide approach or retain autonomy, a choice which CEOs can find most challenging when outstanding schools want to join. 

4. Communications

If the trust is too large to meet as a single group CEOs have to identify new processes and systems to keep staff informed and feeling part of the MAT.

5. The role of the CEO

The CEO moves from executive head of all schools to CEO, taking on a more strategic and outward-facing role, often appointing another leader to oversee school improvement. 

6. Curriculum

Some MATs believe curriculum needs to reflect local context. If they do, that curriculum needs to adapt if they open a new geographic hub or region.

7. Central operations

 Centralised back office functions may need to regionalise as the MAT expands to new clusters, hubs or regions. 

8. Collaboration

Initial face-to-face collaboration structures need to adopt technology, change frequency or evolve as MATs move to new geographies.

9. School performance:

MATs may give more autonomy to high-performing schools to innovate or take a more directive approach with schools that start to underperform. 

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