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School structures

MAT governance: the future is local

This research report describes features of successful local governance and explains what we can learn from established MAT structures.

vision of houses

Local governance within multi academy trusts (MATs), or the local tier as we have come to call it, forms the bridge between the trust board and its schools.

According to NGA’s 2021 annual governance survey findings, local governance remains integral to the governance of the vast majority of MATs, yet the full potential of the local tier remains relatively unexplored.

Research overview

This report sets out the features of successful local governance and explores the learning from established MAT governance structures, drawing on NGA’s research and expertise on MAT governance and wider evidence from the sector on the value of the local tier and its barriers and potential future direction.

The report covers:

  • lines of accountability and decision making
  • local tier identity, roles and names
  • the emergence of the community-minded MAT
  • equipping and influencing centralised goals

Key findings

The report details the features of successful local governance:

  1. Two-way communication between the trust board chair and local chairs.
  2. Separation between each layer of governance.
  3. Governance professionals support trust-wide governance and facilitate communication.
  4. An awareness of who is who and how you fit together.
  5. A meaningful, welcome and accepted role for the local tier in providing support and challenge.
  6. A local tier formed by local volunteers.
  7. Clear delegation ensures harmonious working between the layers of governance.
  8. Trust boards are visible and accountable to the local tier.
  9. The local tier, namely the chair, has input into the performance management of school heads.
  10. The trust values and seeks engagement from the local tier in the recruitment of new heads.
  11. There is a whole-trust governance development plan.
  12. The trust maintains a clear distinction between accountability through governance and accountability through line management.
  13. The local tier retains a contribution to school improvement and an awareness of the school’s budget.

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