Call for academy re-brokerage reforms
The former director of a chain of academy trusts has called on the Government to reform the academy re-brokerage process, so that both parties have sufficient time to decide if they are a good fit for each.
Frank Norris, the former director of the Co-operative Academies Trust, claims MATs are hurried into takeovers which might not be in the best interests of either party, which sometimes resulted in schools being left in limbo.
In 2018-19, 307 academies moved to a new trust and the Department for Education has provided £31 million in grant funding since 2013 to enable MATs to take over struggling schools.
Mr Norris pointed to the fact that although diligence is carried out to investigate school’s finances and HR issues, there is no requirement to check whether the cultures are similar.
He is now recommending the implementation of two-step approval process.
“You’ve got this slightly odd world where you’ve applied to the headteachers’ board, they then like it and approve it, and that then becomes the trigger to say it’s going to happen, he said.
“The RSCs see it as ‘we’ve approved it, therefore it’s got to happen’, when actually there’s still a lot more due diligence going on.”
Meanwhile, Michael Pain, the chief executive of Forum Strategy, which represents MATs, advocates a “try before you buy” approach, by allowing schools to become associate members of trusts.
“The current approach to due diligence is very narrow,” he said. “Organisational development and sustainability is also about culture, vision, values, and being responsive to the needs of communities.”