HfL Multi Academy Trust
HfL MAT Consultation
Benefits of joining the HfL MAT
The HfL MAT is the first of its kind. It has been described as a SIP MAT – a school improvement partner MAT – because of the association with the successful founding organisation Herts for Learning Ltd – the largest Schools Company in the UK providing school improvement services.
We are an inclusive and collaborative Trust, bringing like-minded people together to work together, learn together and succeed together.
Schools and academies in Hertfordshire have a long and strong history of working together and shaping the landscape to create an environment in which schools support each other and children thrive. HfL Ltd was co-produced with schools to develop into a company that serves their needs and, in that spirit, the HfL MAT has also been designed collaboratively with many of the schools interested in joining alongside an in depth knowledge of schools and their communities. There is therefore a strong sense of ownership and belonging in the HfL MAT; this provides a good foundation for its success and ensures schools will continue to benefit from opportunities to collaborate and work together.
The HfL MAT will carry forward the ethos of its founder organisation with a strong sense of moral purpose to provide the best education for children at its heart with an aspiration to improve the quality of teaching and learning. The school improvement experience of HfL Ltd means the HfL MAT is well placed to support schools to become good, sustain good and for all schools to maintain, or strive to be, outstanding. The Trust will develop further school to school support strategies and will ensure the sharing of good practice across the MAT and with others beyond it.
The HfL MAT will bring the benefits of a larger MAT with a local feel and structure; as the MAT grows we will develop cluster arrangements so schools are grouped together in smaller groups geographically, encouraging local collaboration.
The HfL MAT will encourage its academies to retain their ethos and unique qualities, offering headteachers a high degree of autonomy (where appropriate) in leading their schools, whilst giving them the freedom to focus on teaching and learning. Where academies need support and intervention to improve it will be proportionate to need.
Wider benefits of joining a multi academy trust
The following more generic benefits also apply to most schools joining together in a MAT arrangement:
Strong collaboration, with shared accountability, leading to better progress and attainment for pupils, and help schools meet rising expectations.
- School leaders and teachers networking to share thinking and planning, sharing best practice, learning from each other and tackling challenges together. Pilots and trials can be planned across the Trust or cluster
- Governors coming together to share strategic thinking, to combine skills and to support each other during challenging times.
- Pupils within the MAT working together (for example school councils within a cluster)
- Support staff coming together to share expertise and challenges
- Opportunities for parent involvement can be shared and supported more effectively
Recruitment and retention
Sharing the costs and approaches to recruitment and retention across more than one school, enables schools to find different and flexible solutions to recruitment challenges, and where appropriate opportunities to share leaders, teachers and other staff is likely to increase flexibility and to retain specialisms which could be deployed more widely.
We know that retention rates for high quality staff is often dependent upon career development opportunities and access to continuous professional development. The HfL MAT will invest in a programme that supports all staff. School leaders will also have career progression opportunities within the MAT and the Trust will be able to ‘grow its own’ future leaders through talent management programmes. Staff will be given the opportunity to undertake secondments and experience new roles and responsibilities across the Trust.
The MAT and individual clusters of schools will be able to source and fund specialist expertise (specialist teachers, specialists in data analysis, finance, health and safety, catering, educational psychology, educational welfare, SEND etc) and to provide richer curricular and extra-curricular activities and enrichment opportunities.
Shared professional development at all levels, including leadership development programmes, can more easily be arranged, whether led by staff from one of the Trust’s schools or an external organisation.
Economies of scale and financial efficiencies
With financial weight comes better purchasing power. The economies of scale and collective purchasing made possible within a Trust (at either Trust or cluster level) can help schools cope better with shrinking budgets. Financial efficiencies may include:
- HR provision
- energy supply
- catering services
- premises/estate management
- data management systems
- IT services and support
- stationary and photocopying
- accountancy services
- legal services
- event management
Targeting of funds
Funds can be directed where they are most needed either MAT wide or cluster wide, depending on local need. The Trust is legally responsible for the collective budgets; this offers greater flexibility to move central contribution resources across the academies and different subject areas to where it is most needed for the benefit of all the young people learning within the MAT. Individual academy budgets will not be redirected.
Centralised support structure
The Trust’s support structure, time and expertise allows headteachers and chairs of each Academy Governing Board to maintain a strong focus on teaching and learning and improving outcomes for every pupil.