Frequently Asked Questions

What is a multi-academy trust?

  • A multi-academy Trust (MAT) is one academy trust which governs a group of schools through a single set of members and directors. Each school will continue to have an advisory body which the MAT can choose to constitute as a local governing body to which it certain functions can be delegated. The MAT will ultimately be accountable and responsible for the performance of schools in the chain.

  • Funding to the schools within the MAT continues to be allocated on an individual academy basis. Funding is governed through a master funding agreement between the Secretary of State and the MAT and a supplemental agreement between the Secretary of State and each school within the MAT. Having a single trust governing all schools results in there only being one employer for all staff which allows the moving of resources through schools in the chain. Some MATs operate so that, to the extent that this is permitted through the funding agreement, some of the individual school’s budget is combined and used to fund shared services such as contracts. This helps the chain to achieve economies of scale and can be particularly beneficial for primary schools.


Why would a school want to convert as part of a multi-academy trust?

  • A  MAT, as a single legal entity, allows schools to achieve strong collaboration and to use this collaboration and accountability to drive up school standards. Where there are underperforming schools in the chain, representation on the trust can ensure there is sufficient challenge and support to turn those schools around. The MAT can also agree to delegate as much or as little power down to the advisory bodies or local governing bodies of the schools involved, which again allows each MAT to define where power should sit according to the circumstances of the schools involved.

  • Having the MAT as employer of staff also allows flexibility around sharing resources to meet the needs of the individual schools involved. It can help build better staff development across the chain by providing scope for academies to develop their staff with exchange schemes and provide more job opportunities and shared professional development. The MAT can also provide a clear, consistent strategy and vision across a group of schools working together. MATs can often negotiate contracts and services that achieve much better value for money than if each school was to negotiate individually.


What funding will be available to help schools become academies and how can schools claim the money?

  • The Department for Education recognises that schools may incur costs such as obtaining legal advice on the documents necessary for setting up the academy, advice on the process for transferring staff, and new signage and stationery. As a contribution to these costs a flat-rate grant of £25,000 will be payable to the school’s bank account.

  • When the Department receives notification of a school’s intention to convert, a claim form will be provided to enable a claim to be made.


Does every school in the group get the £25,000 grant towards the conversion? Can this be used to support the whole group?

Yes and yes. Some smaller schools find this very attractive, and it enables them to share expertise and resources to help support each other through the conversion process.

How can good schools that have converted to academy status sponsor another school that is not performing well?

  • Every school that has become an academy will have committed to supporting another school, whether through a formal chain or more informal arrangement. We hope that many schools will also wish to sponsor an underperforming school, where the lead school will ultimately be responsible for turning around the supported school.

  • Being a sponsor is a challenging but valuable role for the lead school. It means a high standard of education is also made possible for pupils in the sponsored school. It will give the lead school the opportunity to share good practice, build on their reputation and develop the careers of their staff.


Can the school alter teachers' pay and conditions?

When a school converts from a Local Authority (LA) maintained school to a new academy, staff are entitled to transfer under the same employment terms and conditions. Once open, the academy trust may consult with staff and their union representatives on changes to these terms and conditions, for example to enable the academy to operate over different term times or change the length of the school day.


How will the TUPE (TUPE is the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations) process work, and what specific responsibilities does the school have?

  • The school needs to tell the local authority (LA) of its intention to convert

  • The employer is responsible for informing and consulting staff

  • The LA does due diligence and passes staff details to the academy trust

  • The academy trust writes to each member of staff confirming that they will transfer under existing terms and conditions

  • The LA or other employer gives indemnity for the period staff worked for them, normally as part of the asset transfer agreement.


How will ownership of land be transferred from community schools?

Community school land is usually held the LA and our expectation continues to be that it will be leased to the academy trust on a 125 year lease for a peppercorn rent, as at present. But the Secretary of State has the power under the Academies Act 2010 to make a scheme to transfer the land to the academy trust freehold or leasehold if necessary.

Will academies be free from the Ofsted inspection regime?

  • The Secretary of State has announced that schools previously judged outstanding will no longer be subject to routine school inspection. However, that does not necessarily mean that they will never be inspected. The performance of all schools will continue to be monitored and if there are signs of deterioration or other factors are a cause for concern, these could trigger an inspection. Further details will be available in due course.

  • Other than outstanding schools which convert to academies, we expect that other academies will continue to be inspected in the normal way, except where they have already undergone a full inspection and have been judged outstanding


Are academies required to comply with the School Admissions Code and the School Admission Appeals Code?

Yes.  Academies have to comply with the School Admissions Code and the School Admission Appeals Code through provisions within their funding agreements. The Secretary of State reserves the right to agree limited derogations from the duty to comply with the Code in an academy’s funding agreement where these support fair access.

Do academies have to comply with the infant class size rules?

Yes.  All academies with infants on roll have to comply with the infant class size rules in the same way as they would have as maintained schools. This requires them to organise classes of children of compulsory school age who are aged under 8 in classes of 30 or fewer per teacher.


What are the governance arrangements?

A multi-academy trust is a single trust with 1 board of governors that is accountable for a number of academies in its chain. Each academy usually has a local governing body to which the trust’s board of governors delegates specific functions. Alternatively, each academy can have an advisory body that has no delegated functions but advises the trust’s board of governors on matters agreed at a local level. Local governing bodies and advisory bodies are committees of the trust’s board of governors. Their members are not governors, trustees or directors of the academy trust – unless they are also members of the trust’s board of governors. The members of a local governing body are members of a committee although it is fine to refer to them as governors and most multi-academy trusts do so in their articles.


How are exclusions dealt with after a school becomes an academy?

Academies are required to follow the law and guidance on exclusions as if they were maintained schools. This includes reporting their exclusions to the Local Authority (LA). However the Governing Body Discipline Committee is not expected to invite a LA officer to a meeting to consider exclusion, although a LA officer may attend at the request of a parent. Also the academy is responsible for arranging its own independent appeal panel.


Can academies refuse to take large numbers of permanently excluded pupils from elsewhere?

No. Academies are required to participate in their local fair access protocol, on a similar basis as maintained schools, in order to ensure that unplaced children (including those who have been excluded) are offered a place at a suitable school as quickly as possible.


What happens to the funding for a pupil who is excluded?

  • There is provision for money to follow the pupil in the same financial year.

  • There is a contractual requirement for academies to pay money to the local authority (LA) when they permanently exclude a pupil. The funding agreement says that the academy shall enter into an agreement with the LA, if invited to do so, where money will follow for pupils who are excluded by the academy and for admitting a pupils who have been permanently excluded from another school. This means that the academy should enter into an agreement with the LA if invited to do so.