What makes a successful MAT: Part 1

Every school, or group of schools, at the start of conversion considerations wonder what skill sets are required. By and large, there are 4 that RSC’s like. There is a fifth that can’t be quantified, guaged or is tangible enough for it to be detailed on the application! Yet, the fifth skill set is quite possibly the most important.

So, what skill sets are good to have? Well, education experience is obviously a major skill set for any successful MAT. There is a move away now from Heads and other staff being on the Directors Board. My thoughts on that are for another Blog! Watch this space for that one! If this is to become the norm however, then Heads creating a Headteacher Board sat alongside the Board of Directors is hugely important. There is usually one person in a school who knows where the school is, where the school needs to be and what the journey to get there looks like – the Head. If a MAT does decide not to have staff/employees as Directors, then education experience from others is even more important – retired Heads, SIP’s, school’s advisers and the like are good starting points.

The next skill set is legal. As an Academy / MAT is a limited company and an exempt charity, having the best legal advice in the Trust is a great skill set to have. Employment Law and HR are the best specialist areas within legal. If this skill set can’t be had at outset, then surround yourself with the best quality legal support you can afford. This will provide peace of mind and make you fireproof legally.

The next is finance experience. There is so much financial oversight in the academy world that having robust finance experience and knowledge is an absolute must. Yes, you have to have an auditing accountant anyway ( who by the way will be a superb support network post conversion ) but having a finance skill set within the Trust itself adds another dimension to the Trust.

The last ‘official’ skill set is business experience. The Captains of Industry who understand all aspects of the business / limited company world such as cash flow, employment law, marketing, growth plans and many such considerations.

The balance of all these skill sets – in the right ratio – can create something that is greater than the sum of the parts. Effectively, what a successful MAT is anyway – a group of schools coming together to create something that is greater than the sum of the parts.

My fifth and unofficial one is…. wait for it…. the desire to do the job properly and leave the school / MAT better than when we found it. Sounds simple doesn’t it? But, that isn’t one you can just put down on your application as it won’t tick an RSC’s boxes unfortunately. Yet, isn’t that an important skill set for any school???

So, taking all this into account, isn’t this mix of skill sets just the same as any successful school anyway and always has been? Even those schools that can’t tick all these boxes at any one time, thinking outside the box initially and then seeking people to bring these skills to the MAT later, can create a robust and long-lasting infrastructure that will create the backbone of a successful Trust for all.

Read part 2 by clicking here.