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Developing an effective MAT series – blog 2

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Starting with Simon Sinek

Fundamentally Simon Sinek explores how you can influence human behavior by either manipulation or inspiration and that the latter is inherently more powerful and yields better results. Sinek advocates leadership that inspires people with a sense of purpose, or the “Why”. This should come first before communicating the “How” and the “What” of any organisation, or in our case MAT.


It is the model that Simon Sinek advocates that we believe can be used to develop an effective MAT.  Fundamentally we believe that:

  • The “Why” in a MAT setting represents the reason this Trust exists – Fundamentally why does your Trust exist?
  • The “How” in a MAT setting represents the functions or teams needed to deliver the vision of the MAT.
  • The “What” represents the services they provide or the processes they oversee.

Further reading on the work of Simon Sinek can be found by reading his book: Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action


At EPI we use the basis of this approach to build our model that can support school improvement in MATs as follows:

Defining the “Why”

Why does your Trust exist? What is the mission of the Trust and that of all the people that work within it? What values and behaviours do you expect from everyone across the Trust?

By answering these questions, you are defining your Why.


Expect to communicate why your Trust exists constantly. Everyone across your Trust should know why you exist and the journey you are on to achieve your vision. This will need to be constantly repeated and delivered to staff, students, trustees, governors and parents alike to get your message out there in a variety of formats and approaches.

Starting with Why is the most important part of developing an efficient MAT. Whether a single academy Trust, to the largest Trust in the UK, starting with Why to then feed into the ‘How’ and the ‘What’ model can help you define services, systems and processes to deliver your ‘Why’ efficiently. 


Defining the ‘How’

What functions, teams or services do you need to deliver on your vision? We have set out an example below:

  1. Finance
  2. HR
  3. IT
  4. Estates
  5. SEN
  6. Data & Analytics
  7. School Improvement Team

Simply put, as a Trust, what do you need to deliver effective school improvement? Whether this is a team or a service that you employ or outsource, this doesn’t matter at this stage, however you need it to deliver your vision.


Defining the ‘What’

Taking each ‘How’ you work with each Head of Department to define what that service provides. For example, what does Finance provide? What does HR provide? IT? School Improvement? Simply list it out. Here is an example list of what a Finance team might provide:

  1. External Audit Management
  2. Internal Audit Management
  3. Cash Management
  4. Management Accounts & Forecasting
  5. Finance Strategy
  6. Procurement & Tendering
  7. Budget Holder Support

As a test, we suggest you ask your schools to list out the same, do these match what you have defined with each Head of Department? Do you have the same shared understanding of what each service provides? If not, this is an opportunity to communicate and gain understanding and get feedback.

This is also the moment to ask, who is responsible for each process / system? Is it the Trust, the Academy, outsourced or a bit of everything? Map this out as you go along as it will help you define the offer for each service.


Defining the Offer

In creating this defined list of the “Why”, the “What”, and the “How”, we can then create the Offer for each service, setting out the substance of the responsibilities, processes and documentation for that service. We will expand more on this in our next blog.

We have set out below a visual that will help you see how this all fits together:

Next time?

Next time we will explore developing a comprehensive offer for your Trust. Defining responsibilities, identifying and managing cross-function services, document the systems and processes to deliver each offer and explore the debate of local vs central delivery.

Our next blog will land on the 9th June!


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 Founder, 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 where we are supported numerous Trusts and Academies.


We are proud to work with schools, academies and trust 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