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Proactive planning needed to maximise benefits of MAT central structures NGA research finds


Boards of multi academy trusts (MATs) should be proactive in planning and designing the structure of their central leadership team to better realise the benefits of trust-wide collaboration, a new study from the National Governance Association (NGA) has found.

Internalisation, centralisation and specialisation were identified as the dominant trends in the evolution of MAT structures following interviews with 13 MATs and a desk review of a further 88 MATs. However, the study found an inconsistent picture in how trust boards – which are ultimately responsible for agreeing the central leadership structure and appointing its most senior members – navigate and influence this aspect of their role. 

Achieving the benefits of trust-wide collaboration is not inevitable, and the report concludes that to be successful trust boards need to be proactive, plan ahead and balance drawing on the senior executive leader’s knowledge and experience with taking the decisions necessary to secure the trust in the best interests of the pupils it serves.

The ‘Central leadership teams in multi academy trusts’ report published today (1 July) illustrates different leadership structures and roles being used by MATs and how these structures and roles evolve over time. It also considers the different approaches taken by trust boards to reviewing and designing their central structure.

Sam Henson, director of policy and information at NGA said:

“During the last 18 months or so, we have seen a new level of appreciation for the central leadership teams within MATs. While an increased emphasis on centralisation within MATs continues to provoke a sector wide debate, many at local level are viewing central teams and the value they add to the work of each school within the trust in a new light. Given the variety of central leadership team roles, and a seemingly vast scale of size and remit that exists across the sector, it is not always easy to know what works best and how they should be approached and refined. This report places the spotlight on the journey that trusts go through over time in developing these teams, detailing the essential role of the trust board in achieving the right structure, while also providing some much needed insight on the role of MAT CEO’s and their immediate team.”

Read the report