The role of a CEO within a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) has come under much scrutiny over the past year. And the role has evolved considerably, reflecting the reality of the demands involved in overseeing a MAT. From delivering and leading its vision and strategy, to managing people and culture, improving organisational performance, sustainability and compliance and building key external and internal relationships, the role is varied, and it requires the CEO to wear many hats.
But the CEO does not work alone. The Board of Trustees have the ultimate responsibility for governance matters and the vision for the entire MAT, so it is essential for the Board and the CEO to have a cohesive relationship to enable a positive impact to be made in both the short and longer term. How can this be achieved? Andy Richardson, CEO, Dynistics, examines the challenges faced by the CEO of a MAT.
From proactive to reactive
Whilst a MAT’s CEO is usually located in just one academy, their role involves overseeing each and every academy in the trust. For some CEO’s, this could mean overseeing just two academies, but for others, this could range up to as many as 26. In this case, how can a CEO ensure the running of each academy is contributing to the strategic aims and objectives of the trust?
The CEO can’t just be a firefighter, jumping in when something doesn’t go to plan. A far more proactive strategy is required to keep all academies running in harmony. Of course, it is very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day running of a growing trust, losing sight of how successfully procedures are being implemented across the academies. Waiting until educational results are impacted or structures are breaking down to take action will have even greater implications down the line; should just one school in the trust fail, then, in turn, this will impact the reputation of every academy involved.
Realistically, the CEO has the answer right at their fingertips: data. The value of data in providing the transparency, accountability and visibility needed by MATs can’t be ignored – but with so much data to look at, it’s knowing where to start that can often be the problem. Adopting a system that will ensure data is in one place at all times, honing in on particular aspects to analyse and dissect, will not only give CEOs the insight they need to make informed decisions, but will ultimately allow them to save fundamental costs across the whole trust.
As well as spanning across numerous locations, the role of a CEO includes being responsible for every student, and every employee within the trust, and working closely with the school head teachers. Within this, having open lines of communication is essential to ensure that all employees have the relevant data they need to make decisions and work towards change. Having this data available 24×7 is also vital. There is a need to provide detailed information to spot any errors that may occur, monitor staff and student performance, or to identify any central changes the trust has made to its academies or the structure. A visual representation of data will give CEOs and all staff the ability to do just that, in a quick and straightforward manner.
Looking to the future
As easy as it would be for a CEO to get caught up in analysing past events, the role must also include planning strategically for the terms or academic years ahead. The insight gained from data analytics enables CEOs of MATs to look at where potential gaps might be or where improvements need to be made and plan accordingly, with proposals to the Board backed up with data to provide accountability where necessary.
The role of a MAT CEO is not an easy task, but technology can certainly help. Having accurate, insightful data at the touch of a button will help the CEO to make quick, impactful decisions that contribute to the future growth of the trust. It doesn’t need to be complicated, but it does have the ability to make a huge impact on the success of the entire MAT. It’s time to get started. Are you ready?