Creating a Cohesive Trust: Survey results and findings 

By Harriet Cheng, Head of Marketing at Arbor Education

In March 2022, the government released the Schools White Paper, which revealed plans for all schools to be part of “strong” MATs by 2030. Recent political change means the bill has now taken a back seat, but with many MATs already intending to grow, the scene has been set for a critical few years in the academisation journey. 

In September 2022, Arbor Education surveyed 108 trust leaders and 244 members of the senior leadership team in local authority-maintained schools from around the country to get a sense of the national picture, the full of results of which were published in our free ebook for MAT and school leaders

Thoughts around growth and academisation
In our survey, we found that less than half of all LA-maintained schools expected to be part of a MAT by 2030. Many cited political uncertainty, though the majority of respondents said their negative feelings towards academisation were focused on loss of autonomy, community and identity. Schools also quoted their lack of need for support, especially when they were already “economically viable and have good results.” Those that do expect to join a MAT were still largely negative about the prospect, with many simply saying “we have no choice.”

Despite this response from schools, not one respondent in Arbor’s survey of MAT leaders thought that their trust would add zero schools in the next three years, with most expecting to grow by either 4-6 schools (33%), 7-10 schools (22%) or 1-3 schools (22%). 2% of respondents expected to grow by over 31 schools. This was matched by the general consensus that “schools joining is always positive”, with many participants referring to how growth would allow their trust to “make a difference to as many lives as possible.”

Bridging the gap between expectations between schools and MATs
The discrepancy between the way schools and trust leaders view academisation is clear. With the majority (59%) of respondents in our survey of MAT leaders saying that their preferred method of growth was through acquiring new schools, there is work to be done on changing the perception of what joining a MAT can truly mean. This is especially pertinent for MATs who want to make sure they grow as a cohesive trust with a strong culture, rather than taking on schools simply to remain financially viable. 

Political uncertainty aside, how can MAT leaders win over schools who are reluctant to academise? And, as trusts grow, how can they make sure that they do so sustainably and as one organisation, not many? 

Arbor have put together a free ebook for MAT leaders, where we hope you will find some answers to these questions. It features the thoughts of six MAT leaders and experts on growth, and what this means for schools and trusts looking to the future.

What’s included in the book?
  • Insights from Mark Greatrex, CEO at Bellevue Place Education Trust, on why fluidity and mergers are central to the future MAT landscape.
  • Danny Armitage, Executive Director at Together Learning Trust explores whether you can be a strong trust without a distinctive culture.
  • Hazel Pulley, CEO at Excelsior MAT, looks into the opportunities that come with growth for trusts and schools alike.
  • A guide to change management at your MAT from Matt Darsley, Arbor’s Senior Partnership Manager.
  • Top tips on how to create a strong digital strategy as your trust grows, from Lisa Hawker, CIO at TransforMATive.
  • How and why do MATs need to scale their central teams? Dave Noble, Director at NSBL Associates, provides his answers to this big question.

We’ve also put together some of the comments and perspectives from the respondents of both of our surveys, to share not just the common themes but the more divisive insights in order to inspire conversation at your trust. 

Download your free copy here, or find out more information here

We’d love to see where you stand in this discussion - join the debate on social media using the hashtag #CohesiveMATs. 

Harriet Cheng is Head of Marketing at Arbor, an ASCL Premier Partner. 

Posted: 05/12/2022 09:14:48