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Working Together to Secure Success

Multi Academy Trust FAQs

What is a Multi Academy Trust?

A Multi Academy Trust (MAT) is where a number of schools join together and form a single Trust with a Board of Trustees overseen by the Trust’s Members. Maintained schools who want to join the Trust will need to convert to become an academy. We are experienced in taking schools on this journey and will support you throughout the conversion.

What Is An Academy?

Academies are independent state schools funded directly by the government (through the Education Funding Agency) rather than via the Local Authority as maintained schools are. Academies have more freedoms than other state schools, for example, over their finances and curriculum. The current government still has an ambition for all schools to become Academies, despite the removal of the proposed legislation and 2022 deadline. The number of schools who have converted to Academy status continues to increase; the majority of secondary schools in England are now Academies and just over a quarter of primary schools.

  •  Academies remain part of the community. They serve children and families in a particular area and retain the same responsibilities as any maintained school
  •  The Headteacher in an academy continues to work in partnership with the governing body on strategic matters
  • Academies are subject to the same laws on employment, equality, admissions and special needs as maintained schools
  •  Academies are required to follow the same rules over pupil exclusion as maintained schools
  •  Academies are subject to the same Ofsted Inspection regime as maintained schools
  •  Academies must operate a robust complaints policy in the same way as a maintained school
  •  Academies are subject to Freedom of Information requests, the same as a maintained school.

Why Join a Multi Academy Trust?

There is no doubt that Local Authority capacity to support schools is reducing - the national expectation is that schools will group together to support and challenge each other through effective governance and accountability at local level.

Our Multi Academy Trust allows our schools to remain in charge of their own destiny and help secure even better outcomes for our students.

We believe pupils and staff benefit from the greater opportunities that formal partnership, through the MAT, brings. These include:

  • extending learning opportunities and activities for students, e.g. by sharing specialist facilities and resources
  • enriching the curriculum through greater partnership working for all students
  • increasing the sharing of excellent practice in teaching and learning
  • enhancing the professional development of teaching and support staff, improving recruitment and retention
  • securing cost and resource efficiencies through joint commissioning of services; this will help headteachers, especially in these more austere times, to re-direct funds to teaching and learning;
  • creating opportunities to secure investment in school buildings and educational facilities for the benefit of current and future students, for example, the opportunity to apply for funding for expansion, if this was appropriate for the school in question.

Read about one school’s journey here.

What Is The Overall Structure of the Trust?

Trust Members (5) Ultimate responsibility for the strategic oversight of the MAT

Board of Trustees (10) Responsible for the effectiveness of all schools in the MAT, including ensuring sound financial performance across all schools in the Trust.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) A CEO is a requirement for all MATs. The CEO is appointed by the Board of Trustees, is the Chief Accounting Officer and is responsible for the academic and financial performance of all schools in the MAT. The CEO provides a link between schools and the Board of Trustees.

Education Board (Headteacher Group) Headteachers from the schools in the MAT work together with the CEO to develop and implement Trust wide education and school improvement strategies.

Chairs of Local Governing Committees (LGC) Group The Chairs of all LGCs meet together to help identify and tackle Trust wide improvement priorities and ensure effective two way communication with the Board of Trustees.

Local Governing Committees (LGC) and Individual Headteachers for each school in the MAT Responsible for the leadership of individual schools and the day-to-day running of their school. They have a high level of autonomy for ensuring effective teaching and learning within their local context. Only if a school is at risk of becoming vulnerable will the Board of Trustees intervene.

For full details of our current Governance, visit this section of the website.

What Is The Role of the Trust?

The Trust Members have ultimate responsibility for the strategic oversight of all academies within the Trust, but operate more like ‘silent shareholders’. They are the conscience of the Trust, ensuring that the objectives are upheld. They officially ‘appoint’ the Trust’s Directors (Trustees). The Trust Members delegate the operation of the academies to the Trustees and therefore the Members only need to meet two or three times a year.

Each Multi Academy Trust usually has five individuals who are the Trust Members (unpaid role). In order for the Collaborative Learning Trust to be inclusive, especially with regard to enabling all local schools to join in the future, two of the five Trust Members are from the Leeds dioceses, two of the five Trust Members are nominated by the Trust Board, and the remaining Trust Member is a senior member of staff from Leeds Trinity University. This ‘mixed MAT’ structure allows schools of all kinds, including church schools, to join in the future. All five Trust Members are legally obliged to uphold the CLT’s Articles of Association, which specifically state that non-church schools will always maintain their non-church status, church schools will always maintain their church status and all schools in the CLT will maintain their own ethos and identity. This is guaranteed by the legal documentation.

How do the Board of Trustees and the Local Governing Committees work?

The Board of Trustees determines the policies of the Trust, monitors the effectiveness of individual academies, manages central services and reports to the Secretary of State. They work to ensure that individual academies are performing to the best of their ability and that they get the support and challenge that they require. The Trust is the legal entity and it has one set of Articles of Association that govern all the academies within it. The Trust has a Master Funding Agreement with the Secretary of State and each academy also has a Supplemental Funding Agreement. Each of the academies in the Trust has its own Local Governing Committee that deals with local issues.

The Board of Trustees is accountable for all its academies within its MAT. However, the founding schools have already worked together to agree those matters that will be handled centrally, for example Human Resources and Legal Advice, and those that will remain the responsibility of the individual academy’s Local Governing Committee. This agreement has been encapsulated in the Trust’s Scheme of Delegation, which can be found here.

The Board of Trustees is made up of ten individuals, selected because they have the relevant skills and experience to carry out the role effectively and are willing to commit an appropriate amount of time to the (unpaid) role. Where appropriate, the Trustees for the Collaborative Learning Trust may be selected from the existing governors of our member schools, so long as the Board has the right skill set overall and coverage of the key areas: finance, human resources, education, legal, site management and business management.

Local Governing Committees have a good deal of autonomy – delegated by the Board of Trustees. For example, the Local Governing Committee prepares the school budget for final approval by the Board of Trustees, monitors and reviews expenditure against budget, appoints staff, challenges and supports the Headteacher and Senior Leadership Team. Only where there is evidence that an individual school is vulnerable will the Board of Trustees consider reducing some of this autonomy.

The Local Governing Committee works with staff to develop and maintain the individual character and ethos of their school and acts as a key link between the Trust, the school, parents/carers and the local community. The majority of existing governors at each school transfer to the Local Governing Committee at each school.