By ASCL Premier Partner OnBoard
The current and future success of your multi-academy trust (MAT) depends on effective governance. What steps can you take to ensure your leadership team is ready for the future?
This was the topic of a recent OnBoard podcast, Governance of the future: Getting your MAT board ready
- Hayley Dunn, Business Leadership Specialist, Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL)
- Robert Barham-Brown, Head of Customer Success Services, OnBoard
Their discussion covered three key points, summarised below.
1 The right people round the table
MATs should follow the Department for Education's (DfE) governance handbook and competency framework
, which describes:
- the skills, knowledge and behaviours of a MAT board
- the critical duties of strategic leadership
- the personal attributes that help a board fulfil those duties in line with the Nolan principles
The Academy Trust Handbook 2021
discusses board responsibilities and making topics like safeguarding and health and safety part of the board's knowledge. "You can be quite targeted about who you train and where you make that investment
," says Hayley.
MATs should additionally aim to make their boards diverse. This includes:
- reflecting the local community
- reserving places for parents and others with parental responsibilities
- recruiting people with diverse perspectives and experiences to avoid the risk of 'groupthink' that can hinder growth and progress
The relationship between a MAT's business leaders and the board also contributes to effective governance. If you're recruiting a CFO or other critical leader, make sure their knowledge and experience is convertible into a trust scenario.
2 Data for tracking leadership team skills
Technology like board management software provides data to help a trust track the board's skills, experience and capacity. The trust can monitor qualifications that need renewing, while individuals can add new skills and qualifications as they're acquired. So, the trust has a current overview of the board-wide skillset at any time.
"Boards always work better when they've got up-to-date data at their fingertips
," says Hayley.
3 Insight for effective succession planning
Succession planning is vital to assuring a MAT's future. "The strength and effectiveness of your board, and ultimately of your trust, will always depend on the people you've got around the table
," says Hayley.
A basic requirement is recording start and end dates for individuals' terms of office. Board management software makes this straightforward, and can alert you when, for example, a member needs to be re-elected or their term is coming to an end, so you can take timely action.
Key recommendations from Hayley on ensuring your MAT board is ready for the future include:
- make an ongoing effort to create a diverse board
- identify skills gaps and close them through training and recruitment
- track your leadership team's skills in real time
- prioritise succession planning
To learn more about creating an effective MAT board for the future:
OnBoard is an ASCL Premier Partner.