Time commitments of chairs of multi academy trusts (MATs)

Research by the National Governance Association (NGA), partly funded by the British Educational Leadership and Management Association (BELMAS), has found that the chairs of multi academy trusts (MATs) are spending an average of 50 days per year carrying out their governance duties and has suggested that more MAT chairs need to implement strategies to reduce the amount of time it takes to chair in order to improve the diversity and increase the pipeline of future MAT chairs.

The key findings and recommendations of the report can be found in the executive summary below, along with both the full report and the interim report published in April 2019 which takes a deeper look into the quantitative findings from phase one of the project.

Download executive summary (PDF)

Download full report (PDF)

Download interim report (PDF)

Carried out in two quantitative and qualitative phases, this study follows on from previous studies exploring the time it takes to chair which have focused primarily on chairs of standalone schools. While MAT trustees still carry out the same core functions of governance as those in other settings (NCTL, 2015: 4), a MAT board is responsible for strategic oversight of more than one school and for holding to account executive leaders positioned within complex management structures. Although MAT trustees can and do delegate responsibilities to those governing at a local level (see NCTL and NGA research), emerging evidence suggests that this additional work often translates into an even larger time commitment for the chair of the board.

78% of the MAT chairs surveyed were retired or self-employed, and a majority of those interviewed said that they would not chair their MAT if they were in full-time employment while others emphasised it would be challenging. The limited diversity of MAT chairs in terms of gender, ethnicity and age suggests that the time it takes to chair has a significant impact on who steps forward into these leadership positions.

To ensure the sustainability of MAT chairs, the report recommends current MAT chairs carefully consider their workload and identify whether they are promising too much time to the role and promoting an unsustainable workload that puts off future successors. 

If you have any questions about the study or any other of NGA’s research projects, please email NGA's research team at research@nga.org.uk.

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