You are currently viewing Developing an effective MAT series – blog 1

Developing an effective MAT series – blog 1

  • Post author:
  • Post category:Blogs

Developing an Effective MAT

There has been a huge amount of discussion and debate since the inception of the Multi Academy Trust about ‘models’, ‘central vs local’ and autonomy and control. Whilst there has been huge progress in recent years across the sector to define an effective MAT, there still remains limited definition of what is an effective MAT. Drawing on our experience across the sector, we want to explore the process of developing an effective MAT across a five part blog series. Through our work, we have seen various models, systems and approaches, as well as spoken with numerous students (the most important audience) CEOs, CFOs, COOs, Trustees and stakeholders across the sector. We have concluded there are several common themes that arise when it comes to MATs being ‘effective’.

Over this series of blogs, we want to explore the question, ‘How do we make our MAT the most effective it can be?’


Using our experience across the sector, we will be exploring the tools needed to develop an effective model as well as sharing our resources and insights with you.


So, what processes might a MAT go through to make it effective?


The research so far

To answer this question, we want to start by exploring the research that already exists.

In 2018, Toby Greany explored this question in his research for UCL & the University of Nottingham “Sustainable improvement in multi-school groups”. His research focused on the factors and qualities that already existed in Multi Academy Trusts to facilitate school improvement. This led to five key areas being the main driving factor behind contextual differences:

  1. The age of the Trust
  2. The size and growth
  3. Its composition of academies
  4. The phase of the schools
  5. The belief and values of the founding leaders.

The paper went on to identify and explain the way in which MAT’s sustainably improve schools alongside a set of fundamentals to achieve these:

Strategic areas for sustainability

School improvement fundamentals

Vision, values, strategy and culture

People, learning and capacity

Assessment, curriculum and pedagogy

Quality assurance and accountability

A sustainable learning organisation

Establish sufficient capacity

Analysis of need

Deploy and support leadership

Access to effective practice and expertise

Monitor improvements in outcome

 Further underpinning the themes identified by Toby Greany, Sir David Carter, former National Schools Commissioner and now Executive Director at Ambition Institute, published his book ‘Leading Academy Trust, Why Some Fail, But Most Don’t’. His research and experience explored six key themes across the Academy sector:

  1. Understanding what a Multi Academy Trust is, building trust with stakeholders in the context of our complex education system
  2. The role of the CEO as a system leader and the anchor in which the trust success resolves around
  3. Building a sustainable, effective school improvement model
  4. How the trust identifies and develops talent across its workforce – namely, why should anyone work for this trust?
  5. Governance – What is the strategy? Building a successful board, the scheme of delegation and enabling effective questioning.
  6.  Managing risk and understanding how risks can be opportunities with a strong healthy attitude.

When considering the themes emerging from both of these bits of research, alongside the Governments recent announcement via the White Paper, ‘Opportunity for all: strong schools with great teachers for your child’ that all schools will being strong trusts, the question of ‘what is a strong trust and how might it ensure its effective’ is one we think needs further exploration.


What will this series cover?

Over the next few weeks are going to explore the following: :

  1.  Sharing research by Simon Sunek with a corporate view, we will tie this together into a MAT setting and show a visual model to define the Why, the What, the How and effective MAT operations that underpin it.
  2. We will then explore developing efficient services that deliver your ‘How’ to meet your ‘Why’ – what are you offering your academies? What do your academies need to do themselves?
  3. Process and systems! Who is the process for? Why does it exist? How effective is it really? Compliance vs best practice.
  4. Monitoring and governing an effective MAT – How will you know your MAT is working effectively? What is an effective KPI? How might you measure success?

How can this series help you?

Through this series we hope to provide you a useful set of tools to develop your Trust and help you on your journey to developing a ‘strong trust’.


Our next blog will land on the 31st May!


About EPI

EPI partners with the DfE, Local Authorities and Multi Academy Trusts to deliver school improvement and resource management support.


EPI was founded in 2015 by our Managing Director, Nathan Jeremiah, to support the education sector in the UK, with strong school resource management support. Since then, we have built strong relationships with the Department for Education as a School Resource Management Advisers (SRMA) Supplier and latterly as the sole Accreditor for all new SRMA’s until 2024. EPI is also an approved supplier to the ESFA for financial support for schools and we are supporting several Trusts and Academies.


We are proud to work with schools, academies and trusts in the UK and Internationally through a range of Resource Management projects, providing Interim support as well as supporting specific projects

Learn more about EPI at