Community MATs is a network developed by the National Governance Association to give those involved with the governance of multi academy trusts (MATs) the opportunity to share their experiences and practice with others.
Governing a MAT is significantly different from governing a single school yet MATs are operating and being governed within frameworks and language rooted in a system designed for single schools. This system itself as well of the understanding of it has not evolved to meet the challenges and distinctiveness of MAT governance. Overcoming these challenges requires MATs being willing to share and learn from each other and from the third sector, and relies on policymakers and the wider education sector embrace the knowledge and experience gained over the past decade.
We were asked to start the network by our members, who felt there wasn't an easy way to meet and discuss the issues they faced when setting up and governing a MAT. We want to facilitate that learning and collaboration so that you are better able to govern and improve the education of pupils.
What do we mean by Community MATs?
MATs with a local focus can engage in beneficial activities such as the sharing of staff and CPD opportunities. That local focus doesn’t necessarily mean all of the schools within the trust have to be down the road from each other, but it does mean that the trust has a commitment to making local collaboration between its schools work, even if that means operating within regions of schools within the MAT itself. So how local are your schools? Do your schools benefit from being within close geographic proximity of other schools within the trust?
NGA members helped choose the name ‘Community MATs’ when we told them about the aims of the campaign.
We have purposefully referred to schools in the plural here to emphasise that it’s not about a high performing school ‘taking over’ those that surround it. Instead, the best community MATs are about genuine collaboration between multiple schools.
They’re community centred
One concern trustees, academy committee members and governors have shared with us is the risk of their school/s becoming dislocated from their local community as more and more schools join their MAT.
There’s a growing body of good practice by smaller MATs that are strongly rooted in the communities they serve, as well as innovative ways larger MATs are deploying to maintain strong community links. Our Community MATs campaign will capture and share this practice.
Join the network
To date the network has been instrumental in sharing practice across the sector – you read more about this in Moving MATs forward: the power of governance.
NGA’s network for those involved in governance in MATs, including trustees, academy committee members and governance professionals in MATs, has now entered into its 5th year, and we have held multiple events, from small table discussion network meetings, workshops, large scale network gatherings to our first NGA MAT conference held in 2019.
Remember, you don't need to wait for a meeting to get involved: join the network on LinkedIn If you have any queries about the network, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Training and Consultancy
When it comes to MAT governance, NGA are pioneerers. We provide external reviews of governance (ERGs) bespoke for MATs. In fact, we are the biggest provider of MAT ERGs. We also offer support for MAT trust boards and the governing boards of schools considering forming or joining a MAT. Get in touch!