Considerations when looking for MAT partners

Reference: ‘Forming or Joining a Group of Schools: staying in control of your school’s destiny‘. National Governors Association. September 2015

Vision and ethos. How successfully can the group of schools create a shared ethos?

School type. Only academies can form or join a MAT. Maintained schools wishing to form or join a MAT can convert to academy status and join the MAT at the same time.

Geographical proximity. There is no legal requirement for schools in a group to be in close geographical proximity and there are examples of successful MATs with schools many miles apart. Emerging evidence, however, suggests that the benefits of collaboration are much easier to realise when schools are physically close (Lord Nash, minister with responsibility for academies, suggested that groups should ideally consist of schools between which staff could travel in ‘half a lunch break’). MATs in which schools are geographically dispersed usually seek to introduce a tier of regional governance and oversight, through a regional executive role on the trust board and/or regional committees.

Phase. Groups can be primary-only, secondary-only or cross-phase and can include special schools. There is some evidence that cross-phase groups are more likely to be successful, although this is not universal.

Religious character. Schools with a designated religious character have some restrictions placed on them by their religious authority.