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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.

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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 trustees. Since the 2014 DfE model funding agreement documentation was published, 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.

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

The trustees 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 - in practice, provided that the trustees could demonstrate that they applied GAG in the interests of the MAT as a whole, this might not provide the remedy sought.

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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 trustees. The board of trustees has responsibility for all of the academies operated by the MAT. The MAT board can also establish a 'local governing body' for each academy (or to oversee two or more academies). For more information on the governance arrangements in a MAT, please visit our online portal, Onstream.

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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. For some time, the DfE model Articles of Association have allowed the MAT board to establish a local governing body which oversees two or more academies.  If your schools are joining an existing MAT, you should talk to the MAT about the expectations around local governing bodies at an early stage.  If you are establishing your own MAT, you will be able to set the structure.. 

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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 members, the board of trustees and the local governing body.

The position with voluntary aided schools is less clear cut and if your school is a voluntary aided school, you will need to discuss your options with your Diocese contacts at an early stage.

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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 trustees. In that respect, the current governors of the school will only be key decision makers to the extent that they are represented on the board of trustees. 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 and many local governing bodies will have delegated authority for certain functions.

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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?

There is no consultation requirement for a single academy trust to become a MAT or for a MAT wanting to take on another school (although the governing body of a converting school will need to consult on joining a MAT).  This change in DfE policy makes it a more straightforward process for MATs to be created and expand which is part of the overall plan for all schools to be operated in MATs. 

You might, of course, chose to undertake a more informal stakeholder engagement exercise to ensure that your stakeholders are on board with your expansion plans and understand the rationale behind your decision. 

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

You will need to:

  • Secure the agreement of the Secretary of State (through the Regional Schools Commissioner).
  • Adopt the DfE model Articles of Association for MATs.
  • Adopt the DfE model master and supplemental funding agreements for MATs.
  • Establish local governing bodies under appropriate terms of reference (if your MAT will have them).
  • Ensure that the remainder of your governance documentation and arrangements (including the information on your website) are updated.

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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 314 5301

Technically impressive and good at providing practical advice in plain English.

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