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L-R Sir Steve Lancashire, Lucy Heller, David Moran and Barbara Daykin

MAT Chief Executives questioned by Committee

Heads of four multi-academy trusts recently faced Education Select Committee to discuss performance and governance

Posted by Stephanie Broad | July 19, 2016 | People, policy, politics

Last week, The Education Committee questioned witnesses on Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) performance, growth and governance, including the removal of parent governors, as well as the role of local authorities.

Neil Carmichael MP, chair of the committee, said the purpose of the hearing was to establish ‘what a good multi-academy trust looks like’ as part of their inquiry, which is expected to be reported by the end of the year. 

The committee heard from four heads of MATs first: 

  • Sir Steve Lancashire, Chief Executive, Reach2 Academy Trust
  • David Moran, Chief Executive, E-Act
  • Lucy Heller, Chief Executive, Ark
  • Barbara Daykin, Executive Head Teacher, Little Mead Academy Trust 

Growth was a key topic of discussion, with Lancashire crediting regional clusters and governance for its success. Moran stated that the historic failure of E-Act was due to lack of vision for improvement and transparency over structures and processes. Heller acknowledged that the Department for Education encouraged speedy growth but the ability to do so depends on the trust’s capacity. 

Key outcomes from the hearing included: 

  • Ofsted inspections: all four MAT representatives wanted trusts to be inspected
  • Parent involvement: there is confusion over the current role of parents but all encouraged engagement at some level
  • Growth: growing a small MAT can be a challenge due to the ‘glossy’ approach of bigger trusts. The ‘best’ size for an MAT is too variable, the panel said, and should be dependent on pupil numbers and resources 

The second half of the session included representatives from the Local Government Association (LGA), National Governors Association (NGA), NASUWT and NAHT

Neil Carmichael MP, Education Committee Chair, commented on the launch of the inquiry: 

'Multi-Academy Trusts play a substantial role in today's education system but with relatively little scrutiny. 

“The government's direction of travel towards a fully academised system means we will see more MATs in the future. As studies released this week show some MATs deliver great results for their pupils but it's important that all academies and trusts meet the highest educational standards. 

“We want to examine the role and governance of MATs and ensure we have a system which ensures these academy chains deliver excellent performance while being properly held to account.'


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