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Multi Academy Trust FAQs

Multi Academy Trust FAQs

Multi Academy Trust Frequently Asked Questions

For specialist legal advice for multi academy trusts, ranging from fixed fee legal support to academy conversion, please contact Chloe Brunton on 0117 3145301.

Who is the employer of the staff in academies operated within a MAT?

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.

Who receives the funding for an academy within a MAT?

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.

What if an academy felt that its funding was being unfairly allocated to other academies in the MAT?

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.

What are the governance arrangements in a MAT?

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.

We are two schools with a federated governing body. Do we have to establish separate local governing bodies for each of our schools?

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.

Can a school without religious designation join together in a MAT with a school which has been designated with religious character?

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.

We are proposing to join another multi academy trust. What does this mean for us in terms of our school's autonomy?

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.

We are already established as a single academy trust. What are the consultation requirements for us to become a multi academy trust and take on another school?

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.

What are the legal steps required to change our single academy trust into a multi academy trust?

You will need to:

  • Amend your current Articles of Association to bring them in line with the DfE model for multi academy trusts.
  • Vary the terms of your existing single funding agreement to put in place new documentation based on the DfE model master and supplemental funding agreements.
  • Establish the new local governing bodies under appropriate terms of reference.

VWV has extensive experience in advising on the establishment and operation of multi academy trusts. To discuss your needs, please contact Chloe Brunton on 0117 3145301.

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