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School structures

Local governance here and now

Report highlighting key themes from our conversations with MATs about delegated responsibilities, stakeholder engagement, communication and recruitment.

connecting the dots vision

Local governance within multi academy trusts (MATs), or the local tier as NGA has come to call it, forms the bridge between the trust board and its schools. It is no longer an abstract concept but a lived, tried, and tested reality for the majority of MATs.

NGA wishes to bring the local governance story to life in a new way, building on our previous research. This report is based on in-depth interviews carried out with local chairs, trustees and governance professionals to investigate how MATs utilise their local governance structure to achieve meaningful impact.

Research overview

The report highlights key themes that emerged in our conversations with ten MATs of varying geographies, compositions, and sizes covering the following topics:

  • delegated responsibilities
  • stakeholder engagement
  • communication between tiers
  • recruitment of volunteers

Key findings

  1. The 4Ss (SEND, safeguarding, stakeholder engagement and standards) are the functions typically delegated to the local tier.
  2. Headteacher performance management is an issue that creates the largest disparity in the involvement of the local tier among trusts.
  3. Effective communication channels between the trust board and the local tier are essential to amplifying local tier voices and the stakeholders they represent.
  4. Collaboration among local chairs is a beneficial addition to the MAT governance structure, but for those in non-leadership roles, it could go further.
  5. Governance professionals are essential in ensuring meaningful impact occurs on the local level and within the wider governance structure.
  6. The success of the local tier is limited by the challenges of recruiting local volunteers.
  7. Succession planning for future chairs is often seen as a ‘nice to have’
  8. Local governance in trusts will benefit from greater collaboration with other schools and trusts.
  9. The reputation and identity of the trust in the local area has a direct influence on the success and impact of the local tier.
  • “The links we have with community groups have been very successful and raised the profile of the trust within the community, aligning with our organisational value as a community agent.”

    Local governor and research participant


    The role of the local tier

    A well-functioning local tier of governance provides trustees with insight into the unique challenges and opportunities faced by their communities.

    Trust boards can use our guidance to support conversations about how their trust structures governance at a local level and reflect on whether the local tier has a meaningful impact on trust governance.

    View local tier guidance

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