New guidance to support trust leaders and trustees considering merging with another multi academy trusts (MAT) has been published by the National Governance Association (NGA) and Browne Jacobson.
The guidance sets out how mergers should be approached to be successful. It explores why MATs may want to merge and defines clear roles for each level of the governance structure in MATs during the process. There is also information on identifying, assessing and engaging with potential partners.
While mergers (combining two or more separate organisations into one single and distinct legal entity) remains a new concept in the English education sector, the guidance says that “it is likely that voluntary mergers between MATs will become more prevalent” as the sector responds to the government’s vision “for every school to be part of a family of schools in a strong MAT”. The Department for Education’s ‘building strong academy trusts’ guidance includes an expectation that trusts will “grow by consolidating with other academy trusts”.
From establishing initial expectations and agreeing new governance structures to completing due diligence and engagement with stakeholders prior to the transfer, the guidance offers a step-by-step guide to implementing a merger. It also emphasises the importance of ongoing integration of governance, management, staff and systems after the legal transfer, as well as establishing a single organisational identity and culture, to ensure the success of a merger.
Sam Henson, director of policy and information at NGA said:
“Mergers can provide a positive and strategic option for MATs to help achieve their vision for pupils. If they are considering this option, it is important that trustees and executive leaders have a shared understanding of the merger process and what is involved. Our new guidance offers timely support to those early conversations and thought processes as MATs consider their future strategic plans in light of the current education landscape.”
Lydia Michaelson-Yeates, Legal Director at Browne Jacobson said:
“We are delighted to have worked in collaboration with the NGA to have produced this guidance for the sector on academy mergers. I have no doubt that it will become an essential resource for senior leaders and trustees who might be considering or already in the process of embarking on a merger journey.”