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Leadership webinar: joining a MAT (video and webchat)

Discussion in 'Senior Leadership Team' started by AndrewFIS, Mar 2, 2016.

  1. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    The pressure is on for schools to become academies, and for academies to join multi-academy trusts. But what does joining a MAT actually involve? Do you lose autonomy?

    As part of the TES Leadership webinar series, I’ll be putting your questions to Yvonne Spencer, education partner, Veale Wasbrough Vizards.

    We will examine what you should be thinking about when considering making the leap to a MAT.

    Post your questions below now - and, if you can, join in our live webchat on March 18 at 4.30pm.

    Before that, you can watch a video we’ve made in which Yvonne and I discuss the issues, with key advice for school leaders.

    1920x1080-leadership-video-still-v2.jpg


    To access all the videos in the TES Leadership series, plus an exclusive database of grants available to schools, become a TES Leadership subscriber.
     
  2. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    Don't forget to submit your questions ahead of the webchat on Friday afternoon or you can post them during the discussion.

    Thank you.
     
  3. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    Good afternoon and welcome to the ninth in our series of webchats aimed at school leaders.

    In a few moments I will hand you over to Andrew, who is editor of FIS, who will be hosting this week's hour-long webchat.

    Andrew and this week's guest, leadership expert panel member Yvonne Spencer who will be available for the next hour to answer your questions on academies joining multi-academy trusts.

    If you have any questions please submit them below. Don't worry if we run out of time, any unanswered questions will be responded to and posted on this thread later this week.

    I'll now hand you over to Andrew.



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  4. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    Hello and welcome to this webchat on joining a MAT. Joining me is Yvonne Spencer, education partner at Veale Wasbrough Vizards. For those of you following this thread, please feel free to post your query. Remember to refresh your page to see the updates as they appear.
    Thanks for joining us, Yvonne.
    The Chancellor announced on Tuesday that every school is to become an academy by 2022. If a school is a good maintained school, should it convert to a single or multi-academy trust (MAT)?
     
  5. Yvonne_Spencer

    Yvonne_Spencer New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    It's my pleasure Andrew

    The government considers the MAT model to be an effective model for driving school improvement and efficiencies, as a means of ensuring better educational outcomes for children.

    The MAT model is also perceived as a more sustainable financial model than a stand alone academy because efficiencies can be achieved. MATs when collaborating as 3+ schools can start to identify shared services that will drive school improvement. In the future, we may see MATs of 12 plus schools. On this basis, a new stand-alone academy is possibly a less attractive proposition for the Regional Schools Commissioner.
     
  6. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    What should schools be thinking about in terms of a strategy for collaboration?
     
  7. Yvonne_Spencer

    Yvonne_Spencer New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    I recommend that the following questions/ issues be considered:
    • Who do you want to work with? Strong schools or under-performing schools? Do you need to apply for sponsor status to work with those schools?
    • If you're thinking of joining a MAT, what does it look like? What are its visions and ethos? What is its financial position? What does the MAT have to offer your school?
    • Are you clear on how funding works in a MAT, including that funding can be pooled and that the Board of Trustees is financially responsible for all academies within it?
    • If you're starting a MAT or expanding a MAT, who will you appoint as CEO who will also be the Accounting Officer?
    • Will the MAT provide central services? What is the corresponding top slice?
    • What level of responsibility will your school's local governing body have?
     
  8. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    If a school would like to sponsor other schools, is there anything different it should consider?
     
  9. Yvonne_Spencer

    Yvonne_Spencer New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    For sponsors, often the practical questions are around capacity to cope with expansion, geographical locality, similar age range of pupils and logistical considerations, such as whether staff can travel to different locations fairly easily so that they are on hand to share expertise and to drive school improvement.

    If you're considering becoming a sponsor, an early conversation with your Regional Schools Commissioner is recommended as they can often let you know which schools in your area are looking for this kind of relationship.

    Also, next month the Education and Adoption Bill becomes law which will give the Regional Schools Commissioners more powers of intervention for schools requiring improvement and those in special measures; as well as coasting schools. This means that their overview will be more strategic.
     
  10. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    A question from the forum said: "The only local schools we could collaborate with are church schools - can we create a MAT with them?"
     
  11. Yvonne_Spencer

    Yvonne_Spencer New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    In legal terms, yes - a MAT can comprise of any mix of schools: primary, secondary, church, non-church, special etc. Certainly the DfE and the Regional Schools Commissioners want to see more 'mixed' MATs. That said, there is a lot of inconsistency within different Dioceses and it's also worth consulting them first. One of the questions you may wish to ask is how they would wish to cover off governance in the MAT structure. This may have an impact on the number of Diocesan appointed members and trustees within the MAT. Some Dioceses are very forward thinking with the 'mixed' MAT model and others are more prescriptive.
     
  12. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    Lots of advice suggests undertaking 'due diligence' before accepting a new school into a MAT. What would you recommend this entails?
     
  13. Yvonne_Spencer

    Yvonne_Spencer New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    This is becoming increasingly important and MATs should consider several key areas including:
    • Finance
    • Educational performance
    • Buildings/Property
    • HR/TUPE
    • Governance -
    Due diligence is about understanding risks and issues that may arise when the school joins and agreeing mitigations where possible with the Local Authority (for converting schools).

    If you are taking on a failing school, the due diligence should enable you to form a picture of what tailored support the new academy will require and where resources will need to be focused. You might consider having a threshold whereby if a certain level of risk to your current academy is reached you would reconsider taking on the project.
     
  14. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    If a school creates a MAT, can its head be the CEO?
     
  15. Yvonne_Spencer

    Yvonne_Spencer New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    This is an interesting question. Many good schools are thinking about coming together to form a MAT but there is often understandable nervousness from Heads around losing autonomy and who will undertake the CEO role.

    Some have considered whether they may operate a MAT without a CEO, but our experience is that this is not the preferred model. At the end of the day, just like any large organisation, the MAT requires a leadership structure which identifies a clear leader.

    Importantly, the CEO is also usually the accounting officer and has personal liability for the financial regularity of the trust. This is a requirement of the funding agreement with the Secretary of State for Education. This designation confers legal responsibility for financial and administrative matters.
     
  16. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    How many schools should a MAT aim to have within it?
     
  17. Yvonne_Spencer

    Yvonne_Spencer New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    Good question Andrew!

    It's evident that the economies of scale that MATs can potentially achieve starts to make a critical mass of ten plus schools look more attractive. That said, the new National Schools Commissioner, Sir David Carter, is introducing different MAT models because one size does not fit all. Briefly, there will be four types:
    • starter MATs - new MATs with up to five schools
    • established MATs - MATs with up to ten schools
    • national MATs - trusts with over twelve schools covering more than one region
    • system leaders - trusts with thirty plus schools with a wider geographical spread
    Under this new regime, MATs will not be able to progress to the next level until they have been assessed for their effectiveness and system leaders will be directly accountable to the National Schools Commissioner. There is a bigger question here around inspection of MATs moving forward, will it be a peer review by another MAT, an Ofsted review or a review by a Regional Schools Commissioner, for example.

    When looking at numbers of schools, do consider also the number of pupils which is possibly more important in terms of securing sufficient funding to achieve efficiencies and drive school improvement.
     
  18. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    Finally, what funding is available for conversion and collaboration?
     
  19. Yvonne_Spencer

    Yvonne_Spencer New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    There is a £25k start up grant available for conversion and additional grants are available for small primary schools, and for creating a MAT of primary schools. If you are expanding by sponsoring struggling schools, then you may be eligible for the sponsor capacity fund which can be up to £75k.
     
  20. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    Thanks, Yvonne, for joining us this afternoon. If anyone would like to pose questions for Yvonne in this thread, please do so and she will answer them later. We hope you found this webchat useful.

    To view other videos of interviews, you can subscribe here. This also includes a host of other benefits.

    The next webchat will be on identifying future leaders and will take place on March 24 at 4.30pm. Thank you.
     

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