The insightful event was chaired by Dominic Herrington, Interim National Schools Commissioner, alongside Mike Pettifer, Director, Academies and Maintained Schools Group.
It was also attended by Lord Agnew, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System.
The biannual meetings bring together Chief Executives and senior leaders of leading Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) to share experience and knowledge, as well as being a forum for considering best practice.
At the latest session, held at the Department for Education’s offices at Great Smith Street in London, the benefits and importance of MATs sharing best practice was discussed. This highlighted the benefit of greater collaboration, such as being able to focus on MAT improvement by learning from successes within the forum and beyond.
Another key subject under discussion was good governance and the importance of Related Party Transactions (RPTs), of which the Education and Skills Funding Agency is piloting a new system. It is expected to go live in April 2019.
Attendees were advised that the Department for Education currently provides funding for one trustee from each MAT to go on governance training.
Attendees also discussed accountability and how this could be achieved by Regional Schools Commissioners and regional teams being fully integrated. They also expressed the need for greater transparency, with the Department for Education working towards this.
The hot topic of finance was addressed. The importance of finalising the curriculum and staffing first before looking at other areas of finance in order to achieve the best outcome for MATs was highlighted.
There was also discussion about the Department for Education’s School Resource Management Advisers (SRMAs) pilot, with an estimated £30m-£40m of savings identified. The DfE also reminded attendees of the Multi-Academy Trust Development Fund.
The positives of the academy programme were also discussed and these included the ability to get things moving freely between schools such as ideas, leaders, teachers and resources. In addition attendees said MATs are able to have more innovative approaches to the curriculum, staffing, retention and leadership.
Attendees also felt the support available within MATs helped with the recruitment of head teachers. They also highlighted local accountability, the opportunity for swift intervention, providing choice for parents and improved governance.
Each MAT 2020 Forum features a guest speaker to lead discussions on pertinent issues affecting the education sector and MATs in particular.
Stephen Ravenscroft, Partner in Stone King’s Education Team, said: “MAT2020 forums are successful because they allow for constructive and free-flowing conversation led in an open and frank way. We were delighted that Dominic Herrington was able to chair the event, and look forward to more interesting discussions at our next forum.”
Stone King is a national leader in the education sector and has advised on the academy conversion of more than 1,000 schools. The firm’s 50-strong education team has extensive experience in advising on the growth of MATs and supporting trusts of all sizes on day-to-day matters. A number of the firm’s solicitors are school governors in their own time.
For media enquiries please contact