One of the specific challenges faced by multi academy trusts (MATs) is designing effective central leadership teams. In order to better understand current practice and the opportunities and challenges facing boards, we have spoken to a number of trusts about this issue. Our findings are set out in this 2021 report:
Download Central leadership team report (PDF)
The report identifies that the evolution of MAT central teams can be described by three underlying trends:
- An internalisation of functions – multi academy trusts increasingly do more themselves rather than contracting to third parties.
- A centralisation of functions – away from the academy level and towards the central team.
- A specialisation of functions – trusts increasingly recruit to specialist, defined roles over the broad ‘catch-all’ roles which are symptomatic of younger and smaller trusts.
However, our research identified varied practice in how trusts influenced and reacted to these trends, leading to three core conclusions:
- Central leadership teams are emerging as powerful drivers for realising many benefits of trust wide collaboration.
- Central team power and influence continues to contribute to ongoing tensions between individual school expression and trust control.
- Governance practice in relation to designing and approving central leadership structures is inconsistent.
Putting the research into practice
Drawing on our findings, we will be publishing guidance for boards on how best to tackle the question of central leadership team structure in the coming weeks.