Legal support when joining or converting to a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT)

We have extensive experience of working on multi-academy projects across the country, including the formation of multi-academy trusts (MATs), academies joining existing multi-academy trusts, creative collaborative arrangements for mixed category multi-academy trusts (church and non-church academies), single and multi-phase groups, diocesan group projects and umbrella trusts.

We know how important it is to be provided with clear, expert advice, so we provide a dedicated team to work in partnership with you throughout the project. Our significant experience in multi-academy trusts has enabled us to develop excellent relationships with the Department for Education (DfE) at all levels, enabling us to access project leads and decision makers quickly and effectively, as well as design academy conversion and sponsor support services that we can offer on a market-leading, fixed-fee basis. Quite simply, we believe that the combination of our values and our expertise is unique and makes a real difference.

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What is a Multi-Academy Trust?

A multi-academy trust is a group of schools working in collaboration to achieve high educational standards and financial efficiency and sustainability across the trust, and is governed through a single set of members and directors.

Multi-Academy Trust Structure

A school can join a group of schools that may already be an existing academy chain and a number of schools can come together to set up a new multi-academy trust. There is no one size fits all solution, the composition of a MAT can vary and there are examples of primary only or secondary only trusts, as well as different types and phases of schools.

Things to Consider 

If you are thinking of joining a multi-academy trust or setting up a multi-academy trust, it’s important that you consider some key questions. Read our 10 questions to consider when joining or forming a multi-academy trust.

If you’re unsure about next steps, we would be happy to discuss with you. Please contact Phil Watts.

Setting up or joining a Multi-Academy Trust – the Process
  1. Start a conversation with the MAT that you feel aligns with your ethos and vision. Complete the relevant due-diligence.
  2. Maintained schools need to begin the process by completing a short online form to register interest in becoming an academy with the DfE. They will then be guided through the conversion process by a project lead.
  3. Academies wanting to join a MAT and MATs wanting to bring on board a single academy to the trust, can complete the DfE’s online form. The regional schools commissioner (RSC) will need to approve your plans
  4. Before you make any changes appoint a trusted solicitor.
Our Legal Support for Multi-Academy Trusts

Learning from other multi-academy trusts to identify best practice, as well as identifying common pit-falls, will be key to the success of the MAT. We have significant experience in setting up and helping to establish good governance within multi-academy trusts. So whether you are looking to set up, join or grow a multi-academy trust, want to become or are an academy sponsor, we can provide tailored legal advice and support, including:

  • A tailored project plan – covering key dates, activities and DfE deadlines so you are clear and well informed about the process.
  • Commercial and governance support – including agreement of the Articles and incorporation of your trust, negotiation and agreement of the Funding Agreement and the Commercial Transfer Agreement. Good governance is crucial to a successful MAT.
  • Employment support – your staff and teachers are core to the success of the MAT, we can provide tailored employment law, TUPE and pensions advice.
  • Property support – including dealing with the Land Registry, lease or Supplemental Agreement and providing you with a detailed Report on Title in relation to your buildings, land and estate.

For more information, please get in touch.

Whitehill Community Academy

We assisted Whitehill Primary School convert from community school to foundation/trust school status and then we acted for the school again, a year later, as it converted into an academy and re-structured its foundation body (Whitehill Community Learning Trust).

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Phil Watts

Senior associate

Senior associate in the governance, funding and corporate team