With the most recent Schools White Paper released by the DfE a few months ago, which mainly focused on multi-academy trusts, the dust has started to settle and the information has been better digested. It’s clear that the current government are full steam ahead for the full academisation of schooling within the United Kingdom. It further pushes the agenda of all schools being part of a multi-academy trust by 2030. Obviously, this could all be subject to change if changes to the government occur, or the DfE changes it’s mind – we’ve already seen the Minister for Education change only this week!
Whilst schools may not have considered this as part of their school journey, it definitely poses positive opportunities. iTCHYROBOT work with both schools and multi-academy trusts and can appreciate the different messages and objectives that both will need to be striving to achieve over the coming years.
To this end, we have put a blog together highlighting some of our recommendations for schools looking to join a multi-academy trust and multi-academy trusts looking for more schools, based on our experience and conversations with schools.
Schools Looking To Join A Multi-Academy Trust
You may find moving from a single school to part of an academy an opportunity or a hindrance. However, at this point in time, it’s crucial that you choose the right MAT for your school.
Start Researching Now
It can be prudent to start doing your research and making connections as soon as possible. This allows you to find an academy that best suits your school, and aligns with your vision and values. As nobody can be sure how exactly the process will go when we get closer to the proposed 2030 date, it’s possible that schools will just be put into the nearest trust, or even one further away that doesn’t hit the required amount of schools or students. This could leave you as part of a trust that your school doesn’t resonate with at all.
When looking at MATs, make sure you visit the websites of the academies within the trust. Comparing each of the sites will allow you quickly see just how much personality and identity each school can be expected to retain under the Multi-Academy Trust’s banner.
Talk To The Other Academies
While some academies may give a standardised, positive response, it can be telling to chat with them about what being in their chosen MAT is like. Lots of school staff form connections with staff from other schools, so they’re more likely to be direct with you about the experience. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful influencers, so this is key information.
Examine Their Policies
You need to explore, and clarify, their policies and attitudes to governance, school improvements, financing and more. These key factors can have an enormous impact on your school. MATs often force a school governing body into a sub-committee role, so it’s vital to discuss how your governors feel about the move. School improvement allocation is often detailed on the Trust website, but conversations should definitely be had to iron out what areas are prioritised.
Will the Trust Add Value?
Possibly the most important question when researching Trusts. Making sure that your school will actually see benefit from joining the MAT is key. Most Multi-Academy Trusts have specialisations that your school can really benefit from. Whether that’s high quality CPD, ICT infrastructure, great enrichment opportunities for students or something else, investigate how they can help improve your school.
Make Sure Your School Site is Reflective of Your School
Although it’s all well and good judging MATs and investigating how they operate, your school website should make it crystal clear exactly what your visions and values are, as well as the benefits that you can offer a Trust. There will be competition for the most popular multi-academy trusts, so it’s massively important that all the information about your school is readily available on your website to view.
Multi-Academy Trusts Looking For Schools To Join Them
If you’re in the position of a MAT looking for schools to become part of your Trust, sometimes it can be a difficult job. It is vital that your Trust works to provide a home where a school can thrive and align with your values, but the school must also be a good fit for your Trust.
Just as schools will be looking for aligned values in trusts, the same is true in reverse. You need to be confident that you don’t vastly differ in your vision from your target schools. Misalignment of culture can lead to nasty disagreements that could cause major issues down the line.
Your MAT website should clearly present all of the information that prospective schools need to make an informed decision about you. This should include how schools can contact you, the process for joining your Trust, how other academies have thrived within the MAT, stories from existing headteachers and staff and more. By sharing this information openly and obviously, visitors will quickly get a better idea about who your Trust is.
You may find that some schools you contact require a more specialist touch than you can provide. Whilst it can be tempting to keep chatting with these schools, would it work practically? You have to consider the needs and expectations of both sides of the relationship. Would a school with certain needs be a huge drain on resources? Would that school thrive with another MAT more suited to handle them? Asking these questions can help to highlight potential issues before they can begin.
Whilst the whole process is often much more nuanced than this, and must be approached with a delicate touch, we hope this blog may have provided some insight in taking the first steps on the journey to academisation, or acquiring an academy.
If you’re a Multi-Academy Trust looking to market yourselves to schools and other stakeholders, we now have a tailored MAT package to help you ensure you’re representing your visions & values online. Get in touch today!