Multi academy trusts exist as part of endeavours to raise standards for their member schools and therefore improve educational outcomes for their students. It is very common for Trusts to be composed of a number of schools which are disparate and highly differentiated in terms of geography, strategy and process.
For this reason, many multi-academy trusts, of varying sizes, strive to move towards the centralised model – maintaining infrastructure, strategy and processes at a Trust-wide level in order to encourage standardisation and to be able to effect and see-through change more easily.
Typically this conversation centres around centralisation of finances and technology as the first and most obvious ways to benefit from your Trust being a single entity that supports various centres of learning.
With that in mind, here are 3 key benefits of centralisation for multi academy trusts, focusing on technology and finances.
Streamline the student journey
With many Trusts comprising of secondary academies and feeder primaries, it’s fairly common for students to stay within a Trust’s ecosystem for the entirety of their school career. Although this means effectively moving from institution to another under the same organisational umbrella, depending on where you are in your centralisation journey, this could mean an experience no different from moving to a local authority-run primary to a state secondary.
As a MAT, you can harness the benefits of centralising your technology to provide a more streamlined student experience and journey. Your students could have a single identity login which follows them all the way from Reception into Year 13. This gives educators and support staff in the member institutions complete visibility over the students’ academic journey in a singular view. This can encompass everything from attainment to attendance, and enables you to improve outcomes every step of the way for your students by creating a tailored learning journey. This can also give parents more visibility over their child’s transition and journey through your Trust, making communication and engagement easier.
Enable better collaboration
The benefit of having a centralised ecosystem for students extends to their teachers. As the student moves between institutions, educators have a complete view of their learning journey and can cater for them accordingly. Additionally, centralised resources and a cross-institution communication platform can unlock an additional level of collaboration and connection for educators across your Trust.
This can help raise teaching standards across the board and maximise the impact of ongoing training and CPD. Access to centralised resources also helps to encourage cohesive values across the Trust, leading to improved performance and a consistent approach to teaching and pastoral support, as well as alignment wider objectives like attainment and attendance.
The consortium approach to procurement is common across the public sector. For member schools and academies, who may previously have been buying equipment or devices in numbers in their hundreds, now have the chance to benefit from buying at scale. Obviously, buying at scale can lead to significant cost savings.
The opportunity to furnish your entire Trust with computers, whiteboards, or any other number of devices or pieces of equipment, can drive suppliers into some very attractive price points for you as a trust. This is also true of software – whether that’s your core operating system, such as Windows, productivity software, like Office 365, or more specialist education software such as Frog.
Purchasing licenses for the Trust rather than the individual schools can lead to significant savings. Not only does centralising purchasing help you to save money, it also helps you to move towards a more standardised approach. If you can maintain central control over the purchasing decision of each member school, you can reduce the variation in equipment used across the Trust, particularly when it comes to technology. On the topic of cost-saving, centralising your infrastructure may also lead to further cost-saving, particularly if you are storing or running applications in the cloud. It may prove to be more cost-effective to have one cloud instance for your Trust, rather than individual ones for each school.
100+ senior leaders in Multi Academy Trusts from across the country as well as some of the sector’s most innovative suppliers will come together to discuss their journeys around centralisation and more at our first Multi Academy Trust Partnership Network taking place 25th-26th February 2020.
Over two days at the fantastic Horwood House Hotel, you’ll hear from experts in the field of innovation and strategy in Multi Academy Trusts about the real challenges they face everyday in their organisations.