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MAT mergers: a guide for trust leaders and trustees

Use this guide to explore how multi academy trust mergers should be approached and what's involved.

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A merger combines two or more separate organisations into one single and distinct legal entity. This remains a fairly new concept for the English education system, characterised by a few large, well-established multi academy trusts (MATs) merging with smaller, less successful MATs. However, it is likely that voluntary mergers between MATs will become more prevalent as the education landscape continues to develop.

Mergers can provide a positive and strategic step forward to help secure the realisation of an organisation’s vision. The process can be lengthy and complex; not all come to fruition.

This guide outlines the process for merging two MATs. It has been jointly developed by Browne Jacobson and the National Governance Association. Academy trust leaders and trustees can use this guide to:

  • explore why and how mergers are relevant to the education system in England today
  • understand how mergers can and should be approached in order to be successful
  • develop a shared understanding between trustees and executive leaders of the merger process and what’s involved

Government drive for strong trusts

In 2021, the government set out a vision “for every school to be part of a family of schools in a strong multi academy trust”. It was stated the government would be investing in “strong multi academy trusts…so they can support even more schools”, with a focus on the “strongest leaders” taking responsibility for more schools.

Academy trust mergers are a key element of the Department for Education (DfE) focus on strong trusts, as captured in their Building strong academy trusts guidance. The guidance includes an expectation that trusts will “grow by consolidating with other academy trusts”, stating that “increasingly, small academy trusts are choosing to join (or merge) together to form a bigger academy trust which can effect greater change across the area”.


Experience of a MAT merger

To accompany the publication of our MAT mergers guidance, Edward Vitalis, Chief Operating Officer at Bright Futures Educational Trust shares his experiences and reflections on a recent merger.

Read the blog
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Support from NGA consultancy

NGA recommends boards undertake some form of self-evaluation annually, and commission an external review every three to five years. NGA’s team of knowledgeable and experienced governance consultants provide bespoke support for governing boards, including external reviews of governance.

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