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controversy about ‘mixed MATs’

12 September 2016

The British Humanist Association has accused the Department for Education of enabling faith groups to exert undue influence on non-faith schools due to their permissive approach to mixed multi academy trusts (MATs) i.e. MATs which run both secular and faith schools.

In mixed MATs, it is usual for the faith body to be able to appoint representatives as members and trustees of the MAT as well as to the local governing bodies of the faith schools. The proportion of the representation will depend on circumstances, but there are examples of faith bodies appointing a majority of members and trustees despite the fact that the majority of schools within the MAT are non-faith schools. There are usually safeguards in the Articles and the academy funding agreement, stating that the academy trust must recognise and support the individual ethos of non-faith schools. In addition, church schools may be able to help non-faith schools in the delivery of their statutory obligations to provide for religious worship and religious education.

Non-faith schools considering forming or joining a mixed MAT should explore the proposed governance arrangements of the MAT and what safeguards are in place to protect the non-faith ethos of their school.

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