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The Five Challenges Facing Multi Academy Trusts
14 March 2020
Multi-academy trusts (MATs), where groups of schools join together to attract economies of scale, centralised budgets and functions and a more efficient way of working together can be a huge benefit, but there are also challenges.
Here are our five tips to improving sustainability for MATs:
This change in environment has brought about its own challenges – finding a CEO who can run the trust efficiently when they may have ‘progressed into the role’ from a Head Teacher background with the education of children at the forefront of their mind rather than HR and Financial issues. They may not have the experience of running a large organisation, the skills of a CEO, or be a natural leader of this type of organisation.
MATs now have greater flexibility to be able to set their own pay and conditions which means they have a huge responsibility to recruit and retain good quality people, but whilst keeping an eye on the headcount, workloads and teacher costs. Good quality graduates not only want rewarding financially but they also place greater emphasis on flexible working, work-life-balance and career development opportunities across their careers so it’s worth looking at your recruitment and retention strategy. The perception of working all-hours with a pile of books to mark isn’t too appealing for today’s millennials!
3. Financial Sustainability
MATs need to plan for the future strategically, like a business, to ensure long-term financial sustainability, bringing economies of scale and efficiencies to the centrally controlled organisation whilst meeting their statutory obligations. Having well developed systems and processes and embracing new ways of working will help to ensure you can weather the storm of the ever-changing financial environment. Ensure you develop a 3 to 5 year plan, with planning and budget requirements re-examined and updated continually to ensure you adapt to changes with pupil numbers, funding, capital expenditure and where there may be unforeseen costs. Ensure you implement strict financial controls across the organisation ensuring budgets and forecasts are met across the group.
4. Build up your reputation
Becoming an employer of choice will inevitably assist you with your people recruitment policies which will help you become more efficient, attracting the best talent and team to take you through financially challenging times. Centralise external supplier contracts and streamline renewal dates.
Some academy member schools can feel like they have less contribution to the future of the organisation and may be unsure they’re receiving value for money. It’s important to communicate this to the wider management team and allow them to contribute to the growth strategy moving forward. With an environment that’s used to seeing a decline in budgets, challenging finances, the pooling of finances and less funding/reserves, it’s important to be able to see an improvement through the MAT.
We understand the issues and complex nature of the challenges you face in academies and education and have the experts within the team that can support you with them.