MAT leadership structures: Build it and they will come

In a multi-academy trust a single trust is responsible for a number of academies. Who are Members and who are Trustees? What are their roles and who is in charge? Les Walton, chair of the National Education Trust (NET), provides the answers

There are some key differences between the governance models for academies and those of maintained schools. The academies governance model, approved by the Department for Education, is flexible and allows individual trusts to constitute themselves in a way which meets their individual needs.

I have attempted to describe the current governance structure of NET as an example, giving an overview of the constitution of the Trust and its relationship with local governing boards in our academies.

NET has a number of layers of governance:

1 The Members, who operate at a strategic level with ultimate control over the direction of the Trust

The functions of the Members include:

  • Overseeing the achievement of the objectives of the Trust
  • Taking part in Annual and Extraordinary General Meetings
  • Appointing and removing Trustees
  • Signing off the company’s financial accounts and annual report
  • Power to amend the Articles of Association – subject to approval by the DfE.

Overall, Members usually have much more limited practical involvement in the management of the Trust than the Trustees.

2 The Trustees have responsibility for day-to-day management and operation of the Trust on behalf of the Members and their key responsibilities are to: 

Ensure the quality of educational provision
Challenge and monitor the performance of the Trust
Manage the Academy Trust’s finances and property
Manage the staff
Exercise reasonable skill and care in carrying out their duties
Ensure that the Trust complies with charity and company law
Operate the Trust and its academies in accordance with the Funding Agreement that has been signed with the secretary of state.

3 The Governors (the Local Governing Board)

In each academy the governors are part of the leadership of the academy. It is their role to:

  • Ensure that the academy is being run effectively
  • Hold the academy to account
  • Develop their own partnerships and collaborations

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