It is predicted that by 2020 there will be 8,500 academies, and it is believed that a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) needs 12 academies to become financially secure. There are already 1,000 trusts that can technically operate as a MAT so there are already enough MATS to take on the predicted number of academies.
Yet with each MAT potentially managing 12 schools across both neighbouring and faraway sites, how can cost-saving, time-saving and workload efficiencies be made? This task sounds like a job in its own right but let’s explore the challenges and options a little further - whether your procurement model is centralised, fully devolved or hybrid - before adding new headcount to your payroll.
Inefficiencies across MATs
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why MATs may be concerned with inefficiencies:
- Multiple academies that join together as part of a MAT will bring with them a legacy of their own processes and unique ways of working.
- MATs spread over large areas are less able to share resources and expertise due to travel time/distance.
- Back-office functions tend to be disparate and less joined up, making it less likely for staff to share ideas about the tasks they are working on and the tools they are using to complete them.
- MAT staff – if located miles apart from each other – will also spend less time getting together and becoming a united team.
Efficiencies across MATs
Let’s take a look at a number of ways MATs are becoming more efficient:
- Working groups are being set up to create a co-ordinated approach and enable discussion between staff across MATs.
- Some have implemented central administrative services such as payroll, invoicing, budgeting, recruitment and HR, which can all be managed centrally, saving time and resource.
- ICT is increasingly being seen as one of the top solutions for consistency across MATs to leverage improved communication, sleeker processes and economies of scale.
- A cloud-based Management Information System (MIS) is essential, for access to student and school information anywhere and at any time. Cloud technology can also help to communicate, plan, collaborate on and deliver lessons with a hugely positive impact on time savings when multiplied by up to five, 10 or even 30 academies in a trust. The cost savings involved in moving to the cloud over the medium to long term can also run into tens of thousands of pounds each year.
- MATS are also leveraging cloud technologies to make use of collaboration and productivity platforms such as Google for Education and Microsoft Office 365 to create consistency across academies.
Whatever you choose to do to improve efficiency across your MAT, it’s essential that any strategy is agreed upon and fully supported at a senior/CEO level. Having the final say in the decision making, demonstrating enthusiasm and driving impetus for the project is the only way to get everyone on board.
In complex situations such as managing change across a MAT, it is often the case that school leaders will need external support and advice. Schools rarely have days or weeks to spend on strategy and instead may seek help from an organisation that has experience in organising and managing efficiencies across groups of schools.
Many MATs are now working with our team to devise a clear and unbiased strategy with a fresh perspective to co-ordinate and drive efficiencies – through the use of ICT. We usually conduct an audit and then create a plan for the short, medium and long term. This will provide a roadmap of what needs to happen month by month and year by year, so you know what to expect and when, and the benefits each stage will bring.
We can then work with you on full implementation of your strategy, co-jointly work with you on this, or just check in with you on an ad-hoc basis to see how you are getting on. Whichever way you choose, we can be by your side as little or as much as you need, to improve efficiencies through the use of ICT across your MAT.
So rather than seeking out the funding for an extra person in-house to take on this challenge, why not chat to our team about your options for external support?
Find out how RM can be a valuable partner to your MAT: www.rm.com/education/multi-academy-trusts.