Just prior to lockdown, education branding and website company, PrimarySite, surveyed over 50 education thought leaders across England to canvass their opinions on how easy it is for multi academy trusts (MATs) to grow in the current landscape. Further research has since followed, to gain insight into whether they believe COVID-19 will impact on the sustainable growth and expansion.
The final published report is called, ‘Sustainable Growth in Multi Academy Trusts’, and, amongst the MAT leaders and education sector experts interviewed was NetSupport’s MD, Al Kingsley, who is, in his spare time, a Chair of a MAT.
The report looked at five main challenges to MAT growth:
- Lack of available schools wanting to join MATs
- A risk averse culture
- Competition from other MATs
- A shortage of senior leaders with the right expertise
- Limited access to funding to support growth
The report found that the main obstacle to current growth is the lack of schools wanting to join a MAT – and without a change in Government policy to prompt movement, this situation is unlikely to change, especially now when there are wider issues taking priority.
One way MATs could grow is by merging with others. However, this is a balancing act with many considerations, but carefully managed, and with the right conditions, could work well.
The report also revealed a leadership skills gap. This is totally understandable, as previously with the LA taking on the strategic role, school leadership teams were more inwardly focused. However, with training from within MATs and an investment in wider skills training, this gap is beginning to close.
Another skills gap is in marketing; few MATs have a good understanding of how to present themselves and engage meaningfully through their websites and other online channels. Again, more training for school leaders is required to help fill these gaps and raise the effectiveness of a MAT’s communications.
The report gives a great insight into the current MATs landscape and how expansion may occur in the future.
You can download and read it free here: https://bit.ly/MATresearchSH