Frequently asked questions
What is a multi-academy trust (MAT)?
A multi academy trust (MAT) is a charitable company limited by guarantee which is set up to establish, maintain and develop two or more academy schools. As a legal entity in its own right, the MAT is able to enter into contracts, to hold land, employ staff and to be a member or director of other companies. Because the MAT is both a company and a charity, it must comply with obligations under company and charity law. It is also accountable to the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and the Regional Schools Commissioner for the South West (RSC), who each has delegated powers from the Secretary of State for Education to oversee academies. In practice the MAT operates as a Trust and exists solely for educational benefits, not for profit.
What is an academy school?
An academy is a school that is established and run by an academy trust. The academy trust enters into a Funding Agreement with the Secretary of State, which sets out the academy trust’s legal duties for the running of the school in return for the Secretary of State promising to provide the academy trust with funding to run the school. Learners would still be admitted to the schools via a Statement of Special Educational Needs or Education, Health and Care Plan. They still have to follow the same rules on admissions, special educational needs and exclusions. They are still inspected by Ofsted in the same way. Staff of the schools would be employed by the MAT and not by the Local Authority
How does governance work in a MAT?
Like any company, a MAT has ‘Articles of Association’ (sometimes just referred to as the ‘Articles’). The Articles is the constitution for the company and contains the rules which govern how the company should be run. A MAT generally has three layers of governance: The Members These are like shareholders in a company limited by shares. They are the ‘guarantors’ of the company, promising to pay £10 towards any debts of the MAT in the event that the company is wound up. They operate at a high strategic level and usually meet only once a year. The functions of the Members include: Overseeing the achievement of the objectives of the MAT. Taking part in Annual and Extraordinary General Meetings. Appointing and removing some of the Trustees (see below). Signing off the company’s financial accounts and annual report. Power to amend the Articles of Association. The Board of Trustees The Board is collectively responsible for the day-to-day operation (management and administration) of the MAT on behalf of the Members. Those who sit on the Board technically have three titles: They are the ‘Governors’ for the purposes of education law. They are the ‘Directors’ for the purposes of company law; and they are the ‘Trustees’ for the purposes of charity law. These titles can be used interchangeably. For the purposes of this document, we have referred to them as ‘Trustees’. The key responsibilities of the Board are to: Ensure the quality of educational provision. Challenge and monitor the performance of the academy schools run by the MAT. Manage the MAT’s finances and property. Manage the Chief Executive Officer (CEO)/Accounting Officer. Exercise reasonable skill and care in carrying out their duties. Ensure that the MAT complies with charity and company law. Operate the MAT in accordance with the Funding Agreement that has been signed with the Secretary of State. Local Governing Bodies The Local Governing Bodies (LGBs) are sub-committees of the Board and have delegated authority and powers from the Board to oversee some aspects of governance in each of the academy schools. The powers and duties of the LGBs are usually set out in a scheme of delegation or terms of reference.
Benefits for pupils
Through formal collaboration we will: Use the joint expertise from across the special schools to support the learning challenges that are faced by our learners to ensure there is an equality of opportunity regardless of school setting. Determine the potential opportunities for learning across the schools, both physically and through technology. Access to shared resources e.g. curriculum materials which secure high quality teaching/learning. Enable direct access to and support from a wider set of staff expertise to maximise impact on teaching/learning.
Benefits for parents/carers
Access to all special schools resources, services and support functions that have been reduced through the Local Authority’s shrinking capacity.
Benefits for staff
Secure the sharing of best practice (distributed leadership). Ability to achieve and sustain more ambitious outcomes for all our leaners. Greater opportunities for staff professional development. Access to a wider range of learning resources. Opportunities to work in others schools and gain experience.
Benefits for governors
Reduced duplication e.g. policy review. Issues common to all schools are dealt with centrally by the Board. Ability for local governors to focus on core aspects of governance and effective engagement with their school’s stakeholders based upon each school's self-evaluation.