/ Rory Haynes
MAT centralisation. It’s certainly a topic which still divides opinion.
While some academies see it as a bureaucratic exercise which sees any control they have taken away by an overbearing organisation that dictates policy absolutely, other schools see it as an opportunity to be part of something larger. A shared ethos and philosophy which pools expertise and data to inform best practice and improve student outcomes.
At Bromcom, we realise there is no ‘one size fits all approach’ to MAT centralisation, but if it’s a route you are considering (and many are), its best to do it well. That’s where we come in…
Firstly though, let’s look at some of the advantages of MAT centralisation. One key theme that features heavily in literature on MAT centralisation, is finance. Schools are often run on shoestring budgets and this can also be the case for Multi-Academy Trusts.
Advocating GAG pooling is something which some educators advise against as they trust their individual schools to do financing appropriately, as they have always done. It seems, however, that many MATs have adopted this strategy, and few have looked back.
One crucial advantage of GAG pooling for MATs is to provide a holistic overview of budgets and resourcing across all departments and schools. You can examine where schools are excelling and failing and make strategic decisions based on who needs what, at what time. This should not be mistaken for a knee-jerk process as, in many cases, this is a proactive response to schools who may come unstuck at some point during the year. It is not about which school deserves more money or has historically had more resources, its about assessing the needs of the students to ensure none go without.
In addition, I am sure many schools up and down the country are using providers that neither fulfil their needs or have contracts which cost exorbitant amounts. With MAT centralisation, you have visibility over even the smallest costings and can make vital budgetary changes by using one provider across the board. These are just two examples but the financial advantages to MAT centralisation take many forms including HR, catering, and health and safety insurance, to name but a few.
Data. A school or trust’s foundations centre around data nowadays. It is crucial for statutory reporting and identifying where you can improve student outcomes. Whether it’s engaging disgruntled 15-year olds with trigonometry or having an extra-curriculum provision to support a low-performing Spanish class, all of this information is derived from the data collected.
With MAT centralisation, this data can be processed in a central location. Instead of individual schools collating, analysing and deploying in-house, this can be done from the top and decisions can then be made which benefit students across the board. One school struggling in English, why not draft in a specialist from one of the other schools within a trust? One school with far greater resource in Biology? Equipment or textbooks can be provided to another school to help bridge a progress gap. This collective approach means that a weak link is identified quickly and can be helped by the sharing of resource. When academies operate independently, this information is far more difficult to ascertain and students suffer as a consequence.
Ultimately one of the biggest advantages of MAT centralisation is an increased focus on teaching and learning. Having a team that takes care of ‘the bigger picture’ means everyone from school leaders to LSAs have more time to focus on ensuring their pupils get the most out of their education. Complex decisions are made on high and they can rest assured that, if done correctly, they will have all the tools at their disposal to provide their classes with the best education possible.
In so few words, it’s very difficult to scratch the surface on all the advantages of MAT centralisation. What we at Bromcom can do though, is show you how our unique Vision X product can provide all the tools to make the process even more efficient, through both transition and management on a day-to-day basis. Here are five functionalities you should be aware of:
Bromcom allows users the ability to centrally audit data models and structures used across each school within the MAT. Our dashboards provide visibility on how data is being stored and can assist in the creation and development of logical models which can be implemented, trust wide. This can help to standardise classification throughout and can also provide more efficient data collection and storage, moving forward. All the data and information you need, readily available with just a few clicks.
Collate assessment results across your trust with Bromcom’s grade distribution breakdown. This helps to reduce admin time collating results in different formats from different schools and allows visibility over progress not just in one school but across the entire MAT. Give relevant users permission to drill down through our charts and underlying data to assess areas of strength and weakness and make recommendations based on forensic datasets.
With Bromcom’s cloud-based MIS you can decide who needs access to certain areas. This total flexibility means you can grant access to different dashboards, data or budgetary information and can tailor different roles within the system to ensure that to paraphrase ‘too many cooks are not spoiling the broth’. MAT vision roles can be dictated based on seniority and to reflect job roles which, in turn, supports a comprehensive data protection package and ensure that privacy and security policies are not compromised.
Bromcom’s Vision X gives you all the staffing data you will ever need, whether its individual KPIs, information on attendance, employment dates and contracts, this is all housed in a central database. Having staffing information across the MAT not only reduces time relaying information from school to school in a central hub, it also means you can compare and contrast staffing levels at different times of the year and can even drill down and explore opportunities such as termly staff transfers which can reduce the cost of cover provision and can give students vital access to specialist teachers to improve outcomes.
When dealing with MAT centralisation, budgets are crucial. Bromcom’s market-leading finance solution means you are in possession of all financial transactions, from student dinner money to catering contracts. Make decisions which can save you thousands by going with one provider across a host of schools. Spread resource to ensure no school goes without. Evaluate budgets on a regular basis and set timely reminders to examine renewals. If it staffing, trips or gas and electric, we’ve got you covered.
So, if MAT centralisation is on your mind or you’ve already made the switch and are looking to improve efficiencies, why not try Bromcom? You wouldn’t be the first and you certainly won’t be the last!