Family & Education

Mixed reaction to government's MAT plan

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi wants all state schools to join an academy trust by 2030


Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has revived government ambitions for all English state schools to join a Multi Academy Trust (MAT).

His new White Paper envisages that schools will have become part of a trust, or in the process of joining one, by 2030.

But ministers and officials will still have their work cut out in persuading many schools of the benefits.

Only a minority of Jewish schools currently form part of a trust.

Patrick Moriarty, headteacher of JCoSS, a voluntary-aided school in Barnet, said there might be advantages for a small school loosely connected to its local authority to become part of a trust.

But he added, “We have previously explored the issues, but have not so far been convinced it makes sense for JCoSS.  As a large and successful school with a proud and distinctive ethos, with excellent support from Barnet Local Authority, and with the freedoms of voluntary-aided status, we see more risks than advantages in joining a MAT.”

He added, “A key issue for us would be absolute safeguards of our ethos and guarantees that we would retain full control of the voluntary funds that are raised from our parents and by our trustees.  These may be harder nuts to crack than the White Paper takes account of, and this may explain why previous similar initiatives have not been followed through as vigorously as expected.”

Susy Stone, former head of Akiva Primary, which has also remained loyal to Barnet, believed “the government’s record on compelling schools to become academies speaks for itself.

“Unless there is increased compulsion or considerable financial incentive schools have by now made their minds up about academisation.”

However, Judith Nemeth, chief executive of the Lubavitch Multi-Academy Trust in Hackney for the past year, said, “I have seen first-hand the enormous benefits of academisation and also of merging groups of schools with shared ambitions which enables benefiting from best practice, economising through procurements as well as relieving the isolation some school leaders feel when running just one school. The ultimate winners are the

Michael Woolf, head of North Cheshire Jewish Primary, a voluntary-aided school in Stockport said there could be “real advantages” to academisationn but “unless schools share similar values and ethos, it could be difficult”.

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