The Benefits of Joining a MAT
Converting from an LA school to an academy in a MAT or joining a MAT as a standalone academy can have many benefits.
Buying in bulk leads to greater economies in scales
Joining or starting a MAT can lead to economies of scale and greater efficiency. MATs can contain as many as 70 schools which makes them a considerable 'buying block' when purchasing supplies or services. Everything from the catering to pens can be economised allowing more money to be spent on teaching staff and improving outcomes for pupils.
Research by the Education Policy Institute has found that secondary schools in MATS spend £49 less per pupil on running expenses than LA schools. Primary schools in MATs spend £23 per pupil more on teaching staff in LA schools.
A head office can lead to greater efficiencies
Although having a head office can lead to fears that the autonomy of a school will be lost, larger MATs have the resources to appoint senior members of staff to oversee the provision e.g., a CFO, COO or HR Director. These experts can lead the MAT towards best practice and can also provide specialist in-house advice. It can also provide career progression for staff within the same system.
Centralising HR can remove any discrepancies between the contracts and policies within the schools and can keep them up to date more easily. This reduction in workload allows the HR staff in individual schools to focus their efforts on effectively putting the policies into practise, supporting staff, and providing CPD for staff.
Storing lesson plans and resources on a central system reduces teacher workload and allows for easier monitoring of the quality of lessons delivered. Collaboration between schools allows for best practice to be identified. Weaker teachers or departments can then be coached by higher-achieving staff to bring the standard across the MAT up without the need for outside consultants.
Professional trustees promote stronger, more strategic management
Trustees are often drawn from a wide variety of professional backgrounds, like law or finance, to be able to properly challenge the leadership of the MAT and confirm that it is being efficiently run. This scrutiny can allow a more strategic approach to flourish.
Can give teachers more opportunities for professional development
The majority of schools spend just under 3% of their budget on CPD, which equates to around £3,000 per teacher per year. Research by the EPI has found that giving teachers 35 hours a year of CPD has a significant impact on the outcomes of their pupils. Pupils whose teachers are offered CPD earn an extra 2/3 of a GCSE on average. It can also provide greater job satisfaction for the teachers and lead to an improved retention rate.
The increased efficiencies of running a MAT means that there is a greater budget available for a better standard of CPD. High quality or cloud based CPD may be out of the price range for LA schools or standalone trusts. In-person CPF can be organised across multiple schools at once, spreading the cost and allowing more staff to be trained per session.
Joining a MAT can be a huge decision and it is important to choose the right MAT. Choosing a MAT that aligns with your school's ethos and vision is vital. Looking at the policies that the MAT has in place to manage key areas, like teaching and learning or curriculum, can provide a good oversight on where similarities and differences are.
Once you join a MAT, it can be difficult to leave it or to join a different trust. Therefore, it is vital that you are well informed about how the trust works and the implications on your school of joining. A due diligence audit covers areas such as finances, governance, performance, capacity, and strategy. It will provide you with all the necessary information needed before you join a MAT in good faith.
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