Calls for watchdog review after National Institute of Teaching announces MAT CEO training scheme
The UK Department for Education’s recent awarding of the multi-academy trust (MAT) Chief Executive training contract to the National Institute of Teaching (NIoT) has sparked widespread debate.
The main issue is that the contract was awarded without a competitive tender, a move that has triggered protests from several leadership training providers and sparked calls for an investigation.
The MAT CEO training programme is an initiative by the Government aiming to bolster the leadership capabilities within multi-academy trusts.
According to the 2022 schools white paper, the mission is to ensure an adequate supply of “highly effective leaders” across trusts.
The NIoT, run by the School-Led Development Trust (SLDT) and founded by four leading MATs, has been chosen as the provider for this programme.
The contract value has yet to be released, but the original tender was anticipated to be around £2.8 million.
The NIoT will conduct the training programme, set to commence in February 2024 with an initial 25 participants.
This is later than initially planned and a second, larger group of 50 participants will follow at a subsequent date.
The issue lies in the way the contract was awarded. Three leadership training providers have requested a review by the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA), as they believe the contract award jeopardises their work and violates principles of competition law and transparency in public contracts.
These parties argue that the move could harm competition, as the NIoT’s receipt of significant Government funding could prevent other providers from being able to compete in terms of cost and quality. This could lead to a reduction in the choices available to academy trust leaders when it comes to leadership training schemes.
Despite the criticism, the DfE stands by its decision, claiming that it has met all legal requirements and that the NIoT’s contract is part of their broader plan to deliver top-quality teacher and leadership development.
The NIoT’s proposed training plan includes one-to-one coaching with a successful CEO and immersive learning.
It is important to consider the financial implications of this move. The significant Government funding that the NIoT is expected to receive could distort the market, making it difficult for other training providers to compete.