This article is part of a series and follows on from “Joining a MAT part 5 – Senior Roles in the Trust” which looks at the creation and redefinition of senior roles when forming or joining a MAT (Multi-Academy Trust)
Over the past few years we have worked with various school groupings on the formation and development of Multi-Academy Trusts. In many cases our relationship with the headteachers and governors has continued long after the establishment of the MAT as we have continued to supply other HR support services. Working with colleagues in a developing MAT has given us many opportunities to reflect back on the conversion process and consider lessons learned. The following comments have been taken from various conversations with headteachers, school business managers and governors about the conversion process and working in a MAT.
- How difficult it was building Trust between Principals who had been used to working independently.
- The different mind-set between being responsible for your own school and having to compromise on matters that are in the best interest of the Trust.
- The importance of gradually harmonising policies across the Trust so that as an employer we could ensure equality in the way we treated staff.
- The importance of all academies in the Trust having the same service providers to ensure consistent approaches.
- The time required to find, meet with and agree on new providers to ensure that we would get the level of service required.
- How basic the advice was from the lawyers, the costs involved and the reluctance they showed towards giving detailed guidance.
- The fact that individual academies cannot just take someone who has been a school secretary, call them the Academy Business Manager and expect them to take on Finance, HR, Premises, Procurement, etc.
- The amount of time and money it would take to bring school business managers up to speed on financial management and the resource needed for them to work with the accountants and auditors.
- The importance of purchasing good advice i.e. not relying on the goodwill of individuals, not thinking that the heads can sort it all out, and properly scoping the time and resource needed because some of the tasks are often much bigger and more complex than imagined.
- That the governing body that had worked tirelessly to take the school to outstanding would lose many of the decision making powers that it had and effectively become a sub-committee that implemented MAT policies.
- The amount of time the chair of the MAT needs to commit.
- That fact that we didn’t know what we didn’t know.