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Becoming a MAT – Due Diligence Top Tips

Forming or joining a Multi-Academy Trust

Due diligence relates to the investigation of an organisation prior to signing a contract. Before agreeing to sponsor a school or allow a school to convert into your MAT, it is essential to undertake thorough due diligence activities. It’s crucial to understand exactly what you are acquiring, what the extent of the school improvement task is, that the transferor has the legal right to transfer such as assets and the full extent of any staffing, financial and other liabilities for which you will become responsible.

MAT’s will need to request the information and schools transferring to the MAT will need to prepare the information quickly to ensure the process isn’t unduly delayed

The primary purpose of due diligence is to obtain sufficient information about the organisation joining the trust in order to decide whether the transfer should go ahead. Where appropriate, any information revealed can be used to provide a better negotiating position in respect of terms of the transfer.

Key areas to consider include:

Tip 1 - Financial information

Financial information for the past three years, financial projections, audit reports, capital assets and commitments – we strongly recommend an independent audit of finance and risk.

Tip 2 – The Organisation

The staffing structure, summary biographies of the senior leadership team, curriculum model and staffing ratios, any ongoing or unresolved staffing issues, pay policy. This will help anticipate the Transfer of Undertaking (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE) when staff transfer to your MAT. You are likely to need specialist HR advice to support you with the transfer.

Tip 3 – Performance

External data is accessible to you, but it is advisable to familiarise yourself with the extent of the improvement task by reviewing the school’s centrally held data. This will help you assess the true picture of the school and allow you to determine your organisation’s capacity to support the school effectively.

Tip 4 – Legal

You’ll want to ensure that all assets and contracts including the title to the school land are effectively transferred to the MAT. It will be important to understand what liabilities may be associated with these, for example other organisations based on school land, caretaker housing etc.

Tip 5 – Commercial

You will need to fully understand any additional contracts which will need to be entered into in order to continue to properly operate, for example an upgraded finance system, data management, cleaning etc. Don’t forget to check what’s currently undertaken by the LA on behalf of the governing body.

Further Information

If you are preparing to be a MAT leader or have recently been appointed as part of a MAT leadership team then make sure you don't miss our new programme designed to prepare and develop leaders for managing a Multi-Academy Trust.

Our MAT programme, of 8 three-hour sessions, will set you off on the right foot and share experiences, so that you know how to take the rough with the smooth as you embark on a new journey. Give us a call to discuss the programme further, download the programme guide, click here to book or give Lucy Hutton a call on 07538 004546.

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