Subscribe to our free fortnightly newsletter and stay ahead with the latest news in edtech
Mesma’s Louise Doyle (right) says that multi academy trusts need to consider effective ways to manage quality assurance across multiple sites

Academy self-improvement: experience that counts

Online self-assessment and improvement planning software can help MATs collaborate more effectively, says Louise Doyle

Posted by Stephanie Broad | April 25, 2016 | Technology

A multi-academy trust (MAT) is an effective, formalised and collaborative structure featuring a typical set-up of two or more schools combining for mutual benefit, all governed by a single trust and retaining an element of central budget to invest in products and services, including software, for all to use and benefit from on a daily basis. 

Of course, one of the advantages of MATs is the capacity to negotiate contracts and services that can achieve better value for money than if schools negotiated for these individually. The ultimate ambition of the academy chain is to achieve a strong collaboration between all the schools involved and drive up standards by providing a consistent strategy and vision across a coherent group working together.

However, as perfect as this might sound, the impact for software that claims to deliver improved quality assurance cannot be overstated, and illustrates some challenges which need to be considered for multiple site management as well as if end-users are to benefit from the investment in technology in the long term.

It starts by identifying and agreeing the basics from which any specification flows - one unifying system covering several schools sounds harmonious but it can also generate some tough commercial and technical questions that need to be answered before moving forward. For instance, how does a cohort of schools distil several disparate departments down to a single functionary ‘department’ that everyone can use? Then how do you identify who is best at what discipline – and then who retains ownership of functions?

Similarly, how do you deploy the technology to meet these and other challenges, and whose platform do you choose – and why? How do you then migrate all the schools involved across to that common platform to support functions such as HR, finance, resources, planning, management and quality assurance among other systems? Success is based on the academy chain having a common management and quality assurance structure with data held centrally but readily available for shared access across multiple sites for inputs and updates by authorised people.

The ultimate ambition of the academy chain is to achieve a strong collaboration between all the schools involved and drive up standards by providing a consistent strategy and vision across a coherent group working together 

This underscores the importance of having not only robust, easy-to-use software which is backed-up by suppliers who have the experience and expertise to understand the issues and nuances, but also the experts who can ‘talk’ in a common and jargon-free language to the schools involved to deliver standardised and ubiquitous connectivity built upon reliable and user-friendly platforms. 

The adoption of intuitive technologies like Mesma adds real value, providing education providers with beneficial tools that can be developed over time to become integral and indispensable components of what could be described as moving towards omnipotent management systems. User experience has undoubtedly shown how schools can gain an advantage, providing affordable and tailor-made management resources that put key people in control of vital processes, enabling them to access all the important information required for the school Ofsted inspectors and quality management purposes. 

Louise Doyle is director of Mesma.

Subscribe to our free fortnightly newsletter and stay ahead with the latest news in edtech

Related stories

Tools for academies joining multi-academy trusts

More than ever, schools need to embrace technology

Making the most of education's data revolution

Market place - view all

OKI

OKI is a global B2B printer manufacturer dedicated to creating cost...

Jamf software

Solutions for education. Power the digital classroom with Apple an...

Rhino

Rhino is one of the leading rugby brands in the world and has beco...