The Hill Trust/MAT
Why The Hill Trust?
Prior to conversion to a Multi Academy Trust (MAT) on 1 Sep 2016, the existing BHMS Governors cited a strong sense of moral purpose and an aspiration to continue to improve the quality of teaching and learning as key drivers for adopting a MAT model. Our vision is that it will enable us to build on existing informal partnerships, work collaboratively and support other schools to improve attainment – all for the increased benefit of the students who join us.
The MAT model will also allow us to capitalise on the benefits of this approach, including:
- sharing best practice
- economic benefits, such as centralised services
- the ability to focus funds where they are most needed
- increased and flexible staffing resources
- the opportunity to establish succession planning programmes and, in doing so, retain good staff who might otherwise move on – including headteachers
For some schools, a MAT model has enabled them to remain local but also to grow and expand, and support a wider network of schools. Equally, the MAT model offers The Hill Trust the potential to retain our unique characteristics and maintain our own local governing bodies within our Academies; it also offers headteachers of schools who join us in the future a high degree of autonomy in leading their schools, whilst giving them the freedom to focus on teaching and learning. There is good evidence that some schools are already seeing the benefits of being part of a MAT, including:
- high-quality staff development
- enrichment opportunities for students
- investment in school facilities
- greater community involvement
- a clearer identity and focus
- a stronger focus on teaching and learning
- a stronger focus on data and pupil attainment
- more effective governance
Many of the reasons and benefits outlined above for becoming or joining a MAT were the drivers for our decision to convert to a MAT on 1 Sep 16 and create Bredon Hill Academy as part of The Hill Trust. We anticipate that we will be joined by up to 3 other schools who convert to academy status within the Hill Trust within the next 12/18 months.
Governance within The Hill Trust
In The Hill Trust, a single trust is responsible for a number of academies, although at present, we have only one, Bredon Hill Academy. The Hill Trust consists of the Members and the Directors – sometimes referred to as the trustees.
The members are akin to the shareholders of a company. They have ultimate control over the academy trust, with the ability to appoint the directors/trustees and the right to amend the trust’s articles of association, the legal framework by which we were established.
The Directors are responsible for the same three core governance functions performed by the governing body in a maintained school: setting the direction, holding the headteacher to account and ensuring financial probity. As charity trustees, they must also ensure that they are complying with charity law requirements. Academy trusts are charitable companies and the trustees are company directors and must comply with company law requirements. In reality, the duties are largely the same as those of a governor of a maintained school, such as regularly attending meetings, managing conflicts of interest, seeking advice from the academy’s leadership team and ensuring the academy has appropriate procedures in place for reporting financial information.
While directors can also serve as members, the most effective governance models recognise that the members are responsible for holding the trustees to account. Some separation between those serving as trustees and those serving as members is, therefore, desirable for achieving robust accountability. A diagram showing the relationship between Members, Directors and Local Governing Bodies within The Hill Trust by clicking on the link below.
Individuals who sit on Local Governing Bodies (LGBs) are referred to as ‘local governors’. This is because directors can delegate governance functions to the local level. Directors have complete discretion over what is delegated to each LGB. They may, for example, decide to delegate all functions to academies in the chain that are performing well and only a few to those academies that need greater support.
Phil Sagar MBE
Chair of Board of Directors
The Hill Trust
17th January 2017