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School structures

Moving MATs forward: the power of governance in 2019

Research assessing the context, oversight and practice of MAT governance, offering up recommendations for improvement


Governing a multi academy trust (MAT) is very different to governing a single school, presenting vastly different challenges, offering new opportunities and accompanied by increasing risk. The story so far has been far from straightforward, as the sector has embarked on unfamiliar challenges over the past decade.

This research encapsulates our learning from serving NGA members and consultancy clients and builds on hundreds of conversations with those governing and leading MATs.

In 2021, NGA produced an update to this report: MATs moving forward.

Research overview

This report aims to:

  1. Broaden and deepen governance knowledge across the sector, emphasising the need to raise expectations
    and to respect specialists.
  2. Facilitate effective governance in MATs, by adding to NGA’s wide range of resources for trustees and
    academy committee members.
  3. Stimulate the system to work out together what might need to be improved in this model of governance and the implications for the wider system.

Key findings

Key conclusions are focused around:

  • getting the right people around the table
  • establishing organisational identity: ethos and vision
  • embedding ethics, behaviour, culture and relationships
  • understanding who does what
  • connecting with the community and being accountable to stakeholders
  • the future of the local tier
  • effective communication and information management
  • due diligence and risk
  • MAT growth, location and sustainability
  • ensuring oversight and holding trusts to account
  • system leadership: collaborating and supporting other schools to improve

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