Separation, separation, separation – MAT governance
March 29, 2018
Last week, Education Uncovered (subscription service) released an exclusive story emphasising the need for separation of layers within multi-academy trust governance structures. This separation is needed in order to ensure robust and transparent decision making with clear lines of accountability. The piece focuses on a number of high profile MAT executives that sit on multiple academy committees within their own trusts. It leads with the revelation that Sir Dan Moynihan, chief executive of Harris Federation “sits on 35 of it’s school’s local governing bodies”, raising important questions about “the level of involvement communities can have in the oversight of academies, and the notion of checks and balances with academy chains”.
The National Governance Association has for a long time advocated the need for separation across different tiers of governance within MATs. The intertwining of these distinct layers through a lack of separation can potentially create unhealthy cultures and dangerous conflicts of interest. While the Department for Education has conceded that there should be a “significant degree of distinction” between the members and the trustees in a MAT, less has been said about a lack of separation with local level academy committees.
Emma Knights, chief executive of the NGA raises one of the key issues this situation can present as she is quoted in the piece saying “the whole point of what you are doing as a board of trustees or a local academy committee is to be providing both support and challenge to the executives. You cannot do that if there are a lot of executives on that body: it is a huge conflict of interest.”