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Have you got what it takes to be a MAT CEO?

Professional development organisation Optimus Education's Lisa Griffin offers advice from the experts on leading a MAT

Posted by Hannah Oakman | October 03, 2016 | Events

Developing the skills to run, expand and successfully sustain a multi-academy trust is a daunting task. As a MAT CEO you need to be able to manage the demands of trustees, the DfE, your regional school commissioner, Ofsted, staff and parents while providing the best education for every pupil.

Coming to terms with the complexity of the responsibilities that come with the role is essential, from leading multiple schools and balancing their needs to ensuring clear schemes of delegation and strategically implementing a business plan to achieve economies of scale. How can you prepare for such a role?

9 top tips from the experts

We spoke to a number of multi-academy trust CEOs to get first-hand advice on what it takes to lead a MAT and succeed in the role

1.     Distributed leadership is essential to complement a CEO's skills and expertise. There are key differences in being a CEO compared to a head, and understanding the role of the CEO and the part that delegation plays in its success is essential.

2.     Think carefully and constantly about the balance between autonomy at academy level and coming together to work as a trust.

3.     When you’re planning on expanding your MAT, be prepared to challenge your orthodoxy at each turning point: what is right for three schools will need changing when there are seven. 

4.     The common theme in vision planning for your MAT is planning for improvement in provision and outcomes. The strategy for improvement has to be driven by understanding where the particular academy currently is.

5.     Look for ways of making savings by ensuring duplication of activities is eliminated where possible and some centralisation occurs where feasible and appropriate. Consider centralising policy development since this has the added benefit of ensuring a single coherent message on practice and procedure exists on each site.

6.     Your scheme of delegation is crucial and can vary hugely from one MAT to another. Good governance needs planning, support, and regular review and development to ensure it remains fit for purpose and able to hold you to account.

7.     A CEO needs a far-ranging repertoire of skills: the ability to negotiate, think strategically and remain diplomatic are key.

8.     The trust won’t be built in a day. You need to have a long term plan to build and sustain a really great MAT.

9.     As the CEO, you are ultimately accountable for the performance of the MAT – always remember this!

With special thanks to Mark Woods, Liz West, Stephen Tierney and David Hermitt.

If you're a new CEO or aspiring to the role in the future, you can find out more about the skills involved in leading a MAT and hear from current CEOs at our Establishing or Joining Multi-Academy Trusts conference on the 15th November in London.


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