Multi academy trusts: managing a group of academies

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With more and more maintained schools converting to academy status, we have seen an increase in different forms of collaborative working, in particular groups of academies being run and/or sponsored by the same multi-academy trust company. The advantages of collaborative working are clear: running a number of academies within the same trust company provides benefits to each academy from shared governance, shared resources and economies of scale for any bought-in services.

However, as a MAT grows in size, it is important not to lose sight of the important legal duties of the MAT directors, particularly around governance, under both company and charity law. There have been several high profile news stories in recent months, including last week's story about the Academies Enterprise Trust (AET), which is the largest sponsor of academies in the UK, being issued with a Financial Notice to Improve by the DfE. In its letter to the chairman of the AET, the DfE said that it had “significant concerns about the volatility shown in the series of financial projections provided to us and the ability of the trust to forecast and therefore, critically, to secure finances across the group”. The DfE also highlighted the need for robust arrangements to ensure members and directors "have sufficient oversight of the financial position of the Trust and its constituent academies".

As more schools move away from their Local Authorities and MATs grow, directors need to ensure that they have appropriate policies and procedures in place to set-up and manage each individual academy and the group as a whole. We appreciate that these are new challenges for many people involved in running academy schools, and we offer cost-effective training for directors of academy trusts, covering the legal duties under both company and charity law, to ensure that all directors understand their role and responsibilities. We can also arrange to provide your academy trust directors with bespoke training and/or a rolling programme of training to meet your needs. Please get in touch if you would like to find out more.

Read the guidance produced by the National College for Teaching and Learning on the governance of multi-academy trusts.