If you go back 3 years or so, the main reason for the introduction of Academies was to support failing schools as the DfE saw that the peer to peer support model was the best way forward, especially in an environment where Local Authorities were struggling to provide support with their budgets being cut year on year.
This resulted in some fairly large sponsored academy trusts who took control of the underperforming schools to drive improvements. However, times have changed with the key driver now being financial whilst driving school improvement appears to be secondary.
It has been well publicised that schools’ budgets in real terms are being cut and therefore Trusts are being asked to drive school improvement on a reducing budget. This is proving a major challenge to existing and new MAT’s.
There are a number of ways to achieve the savings and deliver effective school improvement however, how the MAT is structured is critical to this. Every MAT is different, but the concept of collaboration to achieve savings is the right idea. Unfortunately the majority of MAT’s are not structured to allow them to really take advantage of the options available to them and it can sometimes be very difficult to change if you have devolved a certain amount of control to the schools in the MAT.