By Jeff Marshall, Managing Director of J&G Marshall Ltd.
The recent White Paper has brought once again the academies programme to the fore. All schools must now consider what this means for them and all existing Academy Trusts must now consider what Trust growth looks like.
All schools wish to retain control. No school wants their identity diminished. Now, more than ever, every school and academy needs to gather as much information as possible.
Getting this information will help you make better decisions and better decisions lead to better outcomes for children. Getting support from day one is so important to ensure your planning is robust and fit for purpose.
That is where we come in. From your very first thoughts around academies all the way through to post conversion, we are with you every step of the way, forming a partnership for the future.
Context and Direction of Travel
The Academies Act 2010 changed the face of education for ever. Bold statement but true.
Over the next 5 years Secondaries converted in droves and some Primaries. The White Paper of 2015 gave the Tories a majority and with it, we heard phrases like ‘fully academised system’. Up to that point, when schools converted, they did so as Single Academy Trusts.
In 2016, the last but one White Paper, started the growth of Multi Academy Trusts and schools being unable to convert alone. In October 2018, we went past the point of having more than 50% of children educated in academies. In December 2019, Boris won an 80 majority and the DfE dusted off plans for a fully academised system with all schools in a Multi Academy Trust.
The latest White Paper gave us a date of 2030 for all schools to be in a MAT. It also talked about a trajectory of 10 schools or 7,500 pupils. It also gave us a definition of a strong Trust. Trusts are now mapping themselves against that definition and wondering how to hit that 10 school or 7,500 pupils goal.
Growth Audits and Growth Plans
Trust growth does not start with another school. Just as conversions don’t start with finding a law firm. Growing your Trust starts with a critical look at yourself and then having an external agency assess whether you are capable of upscaling and up-skilling your mindset, your infrastructure, your processes and systems to be a potential 10 school MAT or will you still have a 2 school mentality.
It then moves on to how you will grow. How will grow your central team capacity before you grow the Trust? What is your USP for schools joining you? Can you offer a bespoke scheme of delegation? What will be your finance policy – Topslice, GAG pooling or a mixture of both?
What does your School Improvement Plan need to look like? What, in fact, should your growth plan look like to satisfy an RSC that you are set for growth? Who and where are the schools you would like to take in?
What does due diligence look like and can you survive due diligence done on you? What does the onboarding process of a new school look like? If you are a group of schools looking to create a new MAT, all of this is as important and all of this needs to be done well before you start the actual process of forming a MAT.
Never underestimate the amount of work involved in conducting due diligence whether you are a Trust looking at taking a school in, two Trusts merging, a group of schools looking to create a new MAT or a school looking to join an existing MAT.
Getting the right support early will be key to making sure you make the right decisions. Due diligence is not an afternoon’s exercise. It should cover at least Standards, Teaching & Learning, Financial Sustainability, People & Leadership, Risk Management & Mitigation, Vision & Growth Plans to allow you to better understand yourselves and your potential partners.
It can seem daunting this sector of education but that is why our two companies were created in the first place. From your very first thought to supporting your Multi Academy Trust post conversion, we have been there, seen it and done it and we will be your long term partner.
Check out what we do here: https://www.academyconversion.com/ https://marshall-pd.co.uk/