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FAQs - converting your single academy trust to a MAT

1 October 2013
This FAQ is designed for a single academy trust looking to convert into a multi academy trust.

If you are a single academy wanting to join an existing multi academy trust, please click here.

If you are a maintained school looking to convert to academy status and form or join a multi academy trust, please click here.

If you are looking to become an academy sponsor, please click here.

If you are becoming a sponsored academy, please click here.

1. Why would a single academy want to convert their academy trust into a multi academy trust (MAT)?

There are two main reasons why a single (sometimes called a ‘stand-alone’) academy may want to convert their academy trust into a multi academy trust (MAT): 
  • to support other schools in the locality who cannot, or do not wish to, convert to academy status independently
  • to become a formal sponsor of under-performing schools.
Existing single academies may also decide to join together to form a MAT. In this instance, it is usual for one of the academy trusts to be retained to form the MAT and the other academies will transfer into this. 

2. Do we need to get permission to convert to a MAT?

If you are also applying to become a sponsor, permission to become a MAT will be dealt with as part of the sponsor application process so you do not need to make a separate application to become a MAT.

Otherwise, existing academies looking to amalgamate with other academies or convert to a MAT will need to obtain the consent of the Secretary of State for Education via the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and/or the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC).

This is now done by the academy trust completing an application form which can be found here.

3. Do we need to consult on our proposals?

There is no requirement for the academy trust to consult generally with stakeholders. However, it is considered good practice for academy trusts to inform parents, staff and other key stakeholders about the proposals and give them the opportunity to respond.

4. What changes do we need to make to become a MAT?

There are three main changes which need to be undertaken by the existing academy trust: 
  • convert your articles of association into MAT articles
  • enter into a deed of variation to adopt the MAT funding arrangements i.e. converting your current funding agreement into a Master Funding Agreement and entering into a Supplemental Funding Agreement on behalf of each academy school
  • decide on the governance structure for your MAT – this will include deciding whether any changes need to be made to the members or trustees of the academy trust and establishing local governance arrangements.
5. How do we change our articles of association?

The EFA will want to view and approve the draft replacement MAT articles. In some instances, it may also be necessary to obtain the consent of the Charity Commission where the academy trust is proposing to make a ‘regulated alteration’, such as a change to the Objects.

Once approved, the members of the academy trust will pass a resolution to adopt the replacement articles and a copy of the replacement articles and the resolution should be sent to Companies House. 

6. Will our trustees’ roles change when we become a MAT?

When the school initially converted to a single academy trust, it is likely that all the existing governors of the maintained school became the trustees of the academy trust. In an academy, these trustees have three names: 
  • they are directors because the academy trust is a company
  • they are trustees because the academy trust is a charity (albeit one that is exempt from registering with the Charity Commission)
  • they are governors because the academy trust is responsible for running the school(s).
For the purposes of this document, we refer to them as ‘trustees’.

When the academy converts to a MAT, it is usual for there to be three tiers of governance rather than two. These three tiers will be: 
  • members of the MAT
  • board of trustees of the MAT (‘the Board’)
  • local governing bodies (‘LGBs’) for each academy school.
It is likely that some of your existing trustees will sit on the Board of the MAT and therefore continue to be trustees of the academy trust. However, you are likely to need some of your existing trustees to resign as trustees to make room for new trustees from the other joining schools. These resigning trustees may instead wish to sit on the LGB for their academy school. 

7. What is different about being a trustee of a MAT?

The role of the board is likely to be more strategic than a board of a single academy trust because they will have oversight and control over two or more academy schools. The trustees will have a statutory duty to act in the best interests of all the academy schools. 

8. What is a local governing body?

Within a MAT, each academy school will usually have its own local governing body (LGB). These have a similar status to committees of a maintained governing body and the only powers they have are those that are delegated to them by the Board. This is normally formalised into a scheme of delegation. Whilst individuals serving on an LGB may also be trustees of the MAT, retaining some distinction between the layers is important to ensure effective oversight and challenge. It is common for individuals serving on an LGB to be referred to a ‘governors’, although technically the governors of an academy trust are the trustees.

Whilst the LGBs will usually have delegated authority to run the academy school, the Board will be ultimately responsible for all academies it runs.

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