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Multi-academy trust CEOs share their experience and advice on leadership in a MAT.

Dame Dana Ross-Wawrzynski – CEO, Bright Futures Educational Trust

  • When we look at growing our MAT it always goes back to our values, our vision and what we want to achieve as a MAT.
  • None of us are ‘hero heads.’ Remember that we’re all in the relatively early stages as trusts and none of us have a magic wand.
  • A robust due diligence process is key. If you’re taking a school on, you have an obligation to bring value to it and ensure the other schools in your MAT are not put at risk.
  • MATs in the early growth stage shouldn’t punish themselves by taking the most difficult schools on board immediately. They will affect your reputation, drain your resources and you haven’t yet been able to demonstrate your ability to make and sustain improvement in a struggling school.
  • Finances impact on every part of our trust. As a MAT we’re thinking about what we can market in such a way that in time we’re bringing a substantial amount of money into our organisation.

Stephen Tierney - Executive Director, Blessed Edward Bamber Catholic Multi Academy Trust

  • Don't forget the children and young people's learning and well-being. Improving their provision should be the core reason you are establishing the trust. 
  • You'll need to build a small team of professionals at the centre. Business professionals such as a qualified accountant and a person with significant premises knowledge and experience are invaluable. 
  • Think about school improvement and how you will monitor and support the development journey of each of the academies. There are important decisions to make about the balance between autonomy at academy level and coming together to work as a trust. 
  • More than anything realise that the trust won't be built in a day. Your role as CEO or Executive Director is to have a long term plan to build a really great MAT.

Maura Regan OBE – CEO, Carmel Education Trust

  • Change for the better can happen and does happen but it is not a smooth ride.
  • I came into teaching to improve life chances of children and that hasn’t changed….it’s just they aren’t all at a single school now.
  • Education is ever-changing. You do not want people that just do the job well. You need to have highly skilled staff who get the vision and can be flexible to meet the changing horizon.
  • It is all about having a strong backroom team: governance, HR and finance.

Mark Lacey – CEO, Diocese of Salisbury Academy Trust

  • Partnerships need to constantly reflect on their position and the ways in which they should develop structures and strategies, especially given the current pace of system-wide change in schools.
  • Relationships based on trust, commitment and shared moral purpose are key to ensuring that collaboration can work.
  • The importance of engaging suitable partners and collaborators is a vital part of effective improvement in order to secure strong collaboration and improved outcomes.
  • Getting the moral purpose and the structure right (which again may vary from context to context), setting up an accountability and improvement framework, whilst maintaining a sharp focus on outcomes for pupils should ensure that collaboration is able to triumph over competition.
  • Successful leaders should constantly re-evaluate to ensure that they are working for the good of the system and not just themselves.
  • Be prepared to give and reap the benefits of what you can learn from others, in the true spirit of being involved in the leadership of school‐to‐school support.
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