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Amanda Godfrey

Finding the perfect partner

Amanda Godfrey says the government's academisation announcement presents an opportunity for MATs to communicate their offering

Posted by Stephanie Broad | March 21, 2016 | School life

Without doubt, the opportunity to be an academy has been of great value to our schools. It has allowed us a level of innovation and creativity we would otherwise not have reached and has provided a supportive but challenging context for that creativity. As a result, we have developed a confidence and independence that is invigorating and a pleasure to be a part of. But essential to our success was our original motivation.  By choosing to convert to an academy and creating a multi-academy trust we were taking control of our own future and being proactive to create something we believed in.  

For schools who find themselves in the position of responding to the stick rather than the carrot, they will need to identify the opportunities to take control and create their own futures.

Whilst the latest government proposal may be limiting schools' choices it is important to recognise there are still important choices to be made and taking control of the agenda at this point is an essential next step for schools. Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) are unique and individual; schools must identify what they are looking for in their future partnerships and set out to find it.  

Rather like an arranged marriage, not every school will be lucky enough to have met the perfect partner but they must at least be confident that over time they will be able to build a secure and trusted relationship. MATs must make clear what they are offering schools and schools must know what they are looking for. An MAT with a heavy handed leadership model will not be the right partner for a school looking for a light touch and plenty of autonomy. Equally, a school needing support will never feel happy with the distant relationship some MATs offer.  

The Government’s announcement is a prompt to MATs to clarify exactly what they are offering to their schools, how much it will cost, what capacity they have to provide it and a prod to every maintained school to start to draw up their wish list so they know the right MAT for them when they meet them.  The right MAT is out there for every school but we've all got to be willing to put a bit of effort into our courting.

Amanda Godfrey is Executive Head of Spiral Partnership Trust

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