The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Lisa Griffin

Changing times: academisation and group collaboration

With the recent ‘Educational excellence everywhere’ white paper and new Education and Adoption Act 2016, the education landscape is going through a huge amount of change. What does this mean for your school and what should you do now?

It’s clear that the academy programme continues to be a key part of education policy, with the government pressing ahead with plans to academise all schools by 2020 (or ensure they have an academy order in place by 2022).
The new Education and Adoption Act gives the DfE and regional school commissioners (RSCs) greater powers to intervene in failing and coasting schools and academies. 

Go it alone or join a group?

In this landscape, it will become increasingly difficult for schools to exist as standalone organisations. Of course, group collaboration and partnerships are nothing new and there are a number of options available when choosing a group: MATs, umbrella trusts and teaching school alliances to name a few. How do you choose the right group option for your setting? Each model has its benefits and considerations to be aware of and every school will have different reasons for joining, or starting, a group.
With a fully academised education system, it is clear that a significant number of new MATs will be needed. Does the system have capacity to support increased interventions and conversions? At the beginning of 2016 there were approximately 900 multi-academy trusts. Of these, less than twenty operated 21 or more academies.
There are undoubtedly substantial obstacles in growing the number of MATs. Whilst leaders grapple with the day job of ensuring the quality of care and education for their young people, a significant concern for schools voluntarily converting is losing their autonomy. Concerns over leadership structures, developing a financially secure MAT with worries over funding levels and the fact that there is no structure in place to help schools find suitable partners are just some of the other challenges. 
For those leaders starting a MAT the relationship between your MAT and your RSC will be a crucial one, as RSCs will gain more power and play an increasing role in shaping the local landscape through the approval of academy projects.
Developing MATs also face a number of challenges, including succession planning for CEOs and executive principals, as well as growing your trust sustainably from a financial and educational perspective to ensure long-term success.

Help is at h​and

Our Educational Excellence Everywhere & The Education and Adoption Act 2016 conference will help clarify how the changes will affect your school, provide an opportunity to explore the group options available to you and give you the chance to start thinking about the right structure for your organisation.
At the conference you will:
  • learn what new intervention powers will mean for schools
  • explore the different models of collaboration and partnership options available to you
  • gain expert legal advice and hear from leading MAT practitioners
  • have the opportunity to put your questions and concerns to expert speakers.


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