One of the main potential advantages of operating an academy within a MAT is that the staff in all of the academies are all employed by the MAT. Were a school to join a MAT, its staff would transfer to the MAT pursuant to the TUPE Regulations.
Within a MAT, and subject to the staff contracts, staff could potentially be deployed across the different academies with a view to raising/ sustaining standards and securing economies of scale (for example through a central finance function). The MAT structure also avoids the need for a process to be carried out to procure the relevant services if provided from academy to academy.
Under a MAT structure, the general annual grant (GAG) in respect of each academy would be received by the MAT and would be under the control of the directors. Under the more recent DfE model funding agreement documentation, GAG received by a MAT can be 'pooled', i.e. it can be applied across any academy within a MAT. This can assist in ensuring the ongoing viability of an academy through fluctuations in revenue and expenditure but does of course mean that part of the budget that has in principle been allocated to one academy could possibly be used to support another academy.
The directors of the MAT have an obligation to act in the best interests of the MAT as a whole. They therefore need to have due regard to the funding needs and allocations of each individual academy. If a particular academy felt its GAG funding was being deployed unfairly, its Principal could ultimately appeal to the Secretary of State for Education who could impose a restriction on how the GAG is applied.
Like any academy trust, the MAT will have a group of members who will have certain powers reserved to them, including in most cases, the power to appoint some of the directors. The board of directors has responsibility for all of the academies operated by the MAT. The MAT board is also required to establish a 'local governing body' for each academy.
Not necessarily. The DfE has been willing to explore alternative arrangements in these circumstances with a view to ensuring that the benefits of the existing collaboration can be preserved. It might be possible therefore for one local governing body to be established in respect of two schools which were previously federated.
The model whereby designated academies which were previously voluntary controlled schools can join together with a non designated academy is relatively well established. Each academy will maintain its existing religious character (or lack of) and the provisions of the funding agreement will include the relevant requirements/ powers as to collective worship, the curriculum, the staffing powers and the denominational inspections. It is usual in these cases for the relevant Diocese to appoint up to 25% of the board of directors.
Ultimate responsibility for any academy operated within a MAT, along with the decision making powers, rests with its directors. In that respect, the current governors of the school will only be a key decision maker to the extent that they are represented on the 'board of directors'. That is not to say that a school cannot keep its own identity in a MAT. The local governing body can play a key role in ensuring that a school's distinctive character is preserved.
The academy trust will need to carry out a consultation process under the DfE's guidance "making significant changes to an existing academy" dated January 2014. This requires that the academy trust consults with the local authority together with key stakeholders including parents (both of children at the academy and other local children) and representatives of other local schools.
A formal business case will also need to be prepared and submitted to the Education Funding Agency (EFA) setting out details of the proposed conversion to a MAT for approval by the Secretary of State.
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