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Academy Conversion - Considerations when choosing a MAT

Governors at Maintained Schools, the topic of  converting to become an Academy has either already  come up or will very shortly be discussed. Whilst we can  all debate long and hard about whether the direction of  travel is right or not, the fact is that sooner or later all  schools will become an Academy.

 

Governors have three core duties to perform. The first concerns  setting the strategic direction. Historically this has involved  ensuring the Vision, Values and Ethos are coherent throughout  the school, making sure the vision plan is a living document  which feeds into all aspects of school life. But now we have a  new strategic direction to consider, whether to join an Academy  Chain and importantly, which one to join. It is no longer easy for  schools to form their own Academy as Single Academy Trusts  and ‘Empty’ Multi Academy Trusts are a thing of the past. The  DfE’s view is that there are enough MATs out there for schools  to choose from and they are now encouraging MATs to merge  together to form larger MATs.

 

So what do Governors need to consider when looking  at Academy Chains?

Most Governing Boards are passionate about their schools  and quite rightly so. They work tirelessly to ensure the  educational experiences for their children are as good  as they can be. But does an Academy Chain share that  same ethos? Or do they view schools and children as  commodities? It is vital for Governors to do their own  due diligence and make their own enquiries. Ask to visit  a selection of schools within the MAT and Governors will  soon be able to make a judgement. But don’t forget, the  Multi Academy Trust see any new potential school as a pot  of money first and foremost. So when visiting the school,  Governors should expect, and be prepared for, a sales  pitch!

 

The next area to consider for Governors is what delegated  power is going to remain at school level and what decisions  they will still be expected to make. The Multi Academy Trust  Board is responsible for the budget of each individual school;  that is a legal requirement. But how much autonomy is then  devolved back to the Local Governing Body? Does a budget go  back into the school account for Governors to be responsible  for or is it all decided at Trust Board level? Trustees are  responsible for Headteacher Performance Management so  that is a task taken away from the Local Governing Body.

 

Speaking of finance, what is the top slice to pay for MAT  Board shared services? What shared services are already in  place and do any of these overlap with services already in  school?  The way schools and the Trust Board communicate is critical  and Governors need to know that their voice will be heard.  What are the communication routes, how will the Local  Governing Body know that their views are being considered at  MAT Board level? Finally, what does the Scheme of Delegation  look like in terms of local Governing Body constitution? There  may be some shocks in store when Governors realise they  need to reduce their numbers.

 

These are some very simple initial questions for Governors to  consider. For further information on conversion, please don’t  hesitate to contact us.

 

FIND OUT MORE

For more information please email:  governorspace@entrust-ed.co.uk

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