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MATs moving forward: the power of governance in 2021

Report highlighting trust governance is moving in the right direction, while outlining areas NGA has identified as needing development

arrow vision pointing upwards

MATs moving forward: the power of governance is a comprehensive evidence-based report exploring progress on some of the key issues in multi academy trust (MAT) governance over the past two years.

This report provides an update – and affirmation – that trust governance is moving forward in the right direction, while outlining the areas NGA has identified as still needing development. As with any evolving system, there is a certain amount of trial and error. By sharing what we are finding, we hope that others may be able to shortcut some of the trials and become more effective more quickly.

Research overview

This research used evidence collected through high-level conversations with other education and policy organisations and the Department for Education (DfE), including a number of roundtables used to test current and developing thought.

Discussions with NGA’s MAT Governance network continued throughout lockdown, its reach extended by using digital technology.

NGA also learns about MAT governance through:

  • the NGA GOLDline and regular contact with those governing MATs
  • NGA’s annual governance surveys
  • NGA’s consultancy programme
  • the Leading Governance board development programme
  • good practice from the NGA Outstanding Governance Awards

Key findings

  1. Delegation and clarity of roles within MAT governance has seen significant improvement.
  2. Governance professionals are a crucial component in setting high expectations for trust governance.
  3. The focus on stakeholder engagement is generally on the increase from a MAT wide perspective.
  4. Local governance within MATs has resisted any suggestion of its demise.
  5. Communication between the layers of governance remains key to getting governance relationships right.
  6. There has been an increase in scrutiny and expectations on boards' financial governance duties.
  7. Over half of MAT trustees reported plans to increase the number of academies in their trust.
  8. There has been progress in the oversight of MATs by DfE, with governance taking a more central part.
  9. Collaboration outside trusts has improved over the past two years.

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