Research on operational models of multi-academy trusts
April 27, 2018
Ambition School Leadership and LKMco have published research “into the leadership, vision, strategy and operations of multi-academy trusts (MATs)”. The study was conducted through surveys and interviews with MAT chief executives, central staff and academy senior leaders.
Five models of school improvement within MATs were identified, which trusts may move through as they grow:
Hub model: A “high performing school or leader” drives improvement and supports others
Centralised consultants: the MAT employs consultants, often ex-headteachers, to support schools
In-house central expertise: dedicated school improvement staff employed by the MAT
Cluster-based model: school improvement activity arranged around geographic hubs
Self-improving network: expertise and peer-to-peer support shared across the trust
The study looks at how the strategy is shaped in a MAT through its vision as well as areas of compromise dictated by geography or limited resources. No clear link was found between MAT strategy and performance but higher-performing trusts tended to cite standards and outcomes in their vision while lower-performing trusts used vaguer terms to describe their vision.
The findings also suggested that higher-performing trusts operated more centralised approaches to leadership and management. The report’s authors emphasise that these findings are tentative and that “the same strategy can be executed well or poorly in different instances… it is the extent to which a strategy suits a MAT’s context, and the extent to which the strategy and capabilities of the MAT align, which will likely determine performance”.