There is no single way to create or lead a MAT. There is scope to develop a model that best fits the particular context. Whichever type of model is ultimately put in place, there are a number of common steps and issues to explore and consider.
Initially there will be consideration given to the purposes of forming a MAT – what is hoped will be the gain for all members from the process and structure? This will focus on the eventual outcome of providing better education in the community rather than in individual schools. As stated above, between the initial idea and the final agreement and set up there are a number of steps to be undertaken and it is in these that we can offer support and guidance to ensure you have the best possible chance of success.
Ethos and Values
Before getting into detail, it is crucial for the members to establish an agreed vision which will act as the touchstone for operational structures, processes and systems. All individual schools will have developed their own ethos, values and principles of procedure and although there will be many similarities there may well be differences. That is why this first step is so vital.
The agreed vision will clearly set out exactly what the MAT stands for, what its aims are and what its values and principles are. Within this, it will lay out the commitments, the beliefs, the actions and the outcomes for all of the individuals across the MAT, including pupils, staff and all members of the learning community.
Developing a Design Document for Buy-In
This will sequence those issues that need careful consideration by all interested parties. This might take the form of a series of meetings or workshops. Below is an example. This is not a definitive plan, but it should cover such things as:
- Why form a MAT? What are the overall pros and cons, challenges and opportunities? What are the characteristics of the interested member schools?
- What sort of governance structure will be in place, and how will it operate? As stated earlier there are a number of different models and the one agreed needs to fit with the context of the group.
- What will be the School Improvement Strategy for the group? Will it be a model of earned autonomy with a scheme of delegation to match?
- Will the group have a single approach to the delivery of teaching and learning or will it promote variations? Will there be a core curriculum and what variants will be permitted?
- How will the group be funded and what top slice will be required to fund group activity? How will back office support be provided in the new group?
- What will be the processes for consultation and communication?
- What are the implications and opportunities for staff in individual schools when they become part of a MAT? This will cover legalities, TUPE, structures, etc.
Agreement on these issues form the workshops should result in the production of a Design Document which describes, in greater detail, how the MAT will operate day to day and over time.
Formulating an Action Plan
After the workshops, a more focused Action Plan would be produced. This would set out the steps and times before conversion and would cover such things as:
- The timetable and actions for consultation. Who will be consulted, when, by whom, how will results be collated and reported?
- The stages and dates for staffing issues, TUPE, etc.
- The production and sharing of organisational, governance and staffing structures, job descriptions, etc.
- The Terms of Reference for the MAT.
- Financial projections, organisation, risk assessments.
- Submission of the proposal to the Regional Commissioner.
We can offer support for you through all aspects of this process. Our experienced advisers have been involved with groups in a variety of models. We are knowledgeable about the requirements of the RSC (Regional schools Commissioner) and what is important in putting forward a successful proposal.
The Legal Process
On occasion, in setting up a MAT the legal processes are given over emphasis. These are obviously vital but in reality they are focused on compliance. There are a number of firms who specialise in the legalities involved in the conversion process and they should be involved at the appropriate stage.