What is a MAT?
A MAT is a Multi-Academy Trust. It is a legal entity that governs a group of schools through a single set of directors. It is set up by a group of schools, usually a local collaboration, that share a common ethos and vision.
Why are schools joining MATs both locally and nationally?
Across the country Local Education Authorities are being eroded in terms of size and power. The Government, both incumbent and alternative, has indicated that this is their preferred structure. Schools that have converted to Academy status can now procure Services from within a competitive and open marketplace potentially offering both better quality and value for money.
Schools can use the strong collaboration and accountability afforded by the MAT to drive up standards and share best practice and services across the trust, replacing aspects of former local authority support.
Why would a single academy or a maintained primary school want to join a MAT?
There are a number of reasons why a single, stand-alone academy or maintained primary schools may want to join MAT:
Do we need to get permission to convert to a MAT?
Yes. Local authority maintained schools who wish to join a MAT will need to approach their Regional Schools Commissioner. The Keystone Academy Trust has been approved through the Regional Schools Commissioner.
The existing academy trust will need to obtain the permission of the Secretary of State for Education via the Education Funding Agency (EFA). The EFA will has required the academy trust to prepare a business plan which sets out:
Do we need to consult?
There is a requirement for laocal authority maintained schools wishing to convert to an academy to consult with their stakeholders. There is no requirement for the MAT or the single academy to consult generally with stakeholders. However, it is considered good practice for academy trusts to inform parents, staff and other key stakeholders about the proposals and give them the opportunity to respond. Staff will need to be formally informed/consulted about the transfer of their employment under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (‘TUPE’).
Is there a set model for how a MAT has to operate?
No. There are rules regarding how a MAT is funded, but the way in which a MAT operates, its governance structure and vision/ethos are defined by the academy or academies that set up the MAT.
What changes do we need to make to become a MAT?
There are three main changes which need to be undertaken by the existing academy trust:
What will happen to our land and buildings?
This will be negotiated at time of transfer, but it is likely that all land and buildings will be held on a long term lease by the multi academy trust.
How is funding organised within the MAT?
Funding for schools within a MAT is allocated on an individual academy basis. It is governed through a master funding agreement between the Secretary of State and the MAT and supplemental agreements between the Secretary of State and each school within the MAT. Previously the LEA ‘top sliced’ centrally delivered funding to provide a raft of services such as payroll and admissions. Although a figure has never been officially revealed (and it differs between LEAs) the suggestion is in the region of 20%. The MAT can decide what % of funding to top slice in order to operate the MAT and provide desired support. This is negotiated and agreed before entry. Schools that have converted to Academy status have found that generally they can procure the centralised services from the open market much cheaper than buying them back from the LEA.
Will the school lose its financial independence and its ability to manage its own finances?
There would be a common financial procedures manual to be shared between schools but each school will be expected to maintain their own books. However, there is will be some centralisation of finances where these make sense and result in possible economies of scale.
Will we save money by becoming an academy?
Economies of scale can lead to svaings within a MAT. Joint procurement allows access to a wider range of resources that the may previousy have been unaffordable.
Keystone Academy Trust is governed by one set of Members and Board of Trustees who delegate certain responsibilities to individual Local Governing Boards and Senior leadership teams via a transparent scheme of delegation.
Will the governors’ role change when we become a MAT?
Yes. The governors will be completely focussed on standards, curriculum and wellbeing of the pupils.
When the academy converts to a MAT, there will be three tiers of governance rather than two.
These three tiers will be:
Will working with other schools mean lowering our own standards or possibly detracting resources from our own school?
No! by working closely with others we will be raising our own standards and increasing accessibility to a greater range of resources.