Multi-Academy Trusts – a way forward for your school?

14th March 2023

In the early 2000s, academies began to emerge throughout the UK; as of January 2022, 80% of secondary schools, 39% of primary schools and 43% of special schools are now academies.

An Academy is a state-funded school which receives its funding directly from the Department for Education, without the Local Authority (“LA”) exercising any control over the school.

Academy Trusts are companies limited by guarantee and their primary charitable object is running and improving academies. Such trusts are governed by a Board of Trustees, the trusts are subject to both company law and charity law regulation.

A Multi-Academy Trust (“MAT”) is an Academy Trust company which operates a group of academies.

There are many considerations that a school or academy must make before joining a MAT, we’ve included some below, but if you have any queries, get in touch.

What are the benefits of joining a MAT?

  • The overall objective of a MAT is to advance education for public benefit
  • Raise student attainment
  • Share resources
  • Centralise decision making
  • Gain strong leadership
  • Share the same ethos and values

Your school could join a MAT if it is:

  • An existing academy trust (that are considering future growth);
  • An existing academy trust, including single academy trusts (SATS), that would like to merge with another academy trust;
  • A LA maintained school considering conversion by joining a MAT;
  • A LA maintained school considering conversion by forming a new MAT, with like-minded schools also converting simultaneously.

Choosing the correct MAT to join

Each MAT has varying ethos’, values and resources, as well as future visions for their academies. Therefore, it is essential that the ethos, values and future visions of the MAT align with those of your school.

Starting the process of academy conversion

If you want to convert your primary or secondary school to academy status, register your interest with the Department for Education (“DfE”). A conversion specialist will contact you with the relevant information to process your application. The website outlines what will be required to process your application.

This includes evidence that the school has permission to convert to an academy, namely:

  • a resolution passed by the school’s governing body;
  • a letter from the new trust the school is joining – or minutes of their board meeting;
  • a letter of consent from the diocese – if it’s a faith school;
  • a letter of consent from the foundation trust – if it’s a foundation school.

It will take somewhere between 2 and 6 weeks for the DfE to assess the application and grant the academy order if you have been successful.

Governance considerations when joining a MAT

Your school’s governing body and the Board of Trustees at the MAT must consider how your school will be represented. The Governance Handbook published by the DfE advises on suitable governance structures for academies.

We have advised on over 300 conversions, if you are thinking about becoming an academy or joining a MAT, we’re here to help.

Please contact Tina Morris, Education Associate, at

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