Expressing an interest
Any school that is interested in exploring the possibility of joining the HfL MAT should contact us at info@HfLMAT.co.uk.
A member of the team will then be happy to speak to your governing body about what joining the HfL MAT would mean and how the Trust operates. The MAT Board of Trustees will be informed of any schools that have expressed an interest. Following a meeting with Alex Thomas and/or Lynne Wilson-Leary with your governing body and confirmation that the governing body would like to proceed to join the HfL MAT, your school will need to confirm your decision to us and then complete the online registration of interest form on the DfE website.
Six steps to conversion are outlined on the DfE website; the registration of interest is part of step 1. Once you have registered an interest with the DfE they will get in touch with you and give you the name of your DfE project lead. Your DfE project lead will work with you throughout the conversion process and answer any questions you may have. Once your application is accepted, key dates throughout the process are outlined on the DfE’s Academy conversion: important dates page.
Considerations for the HfL MAT before supporting a school’s application to convert
A key consideration for the HfL MAT Trustees is to weigh up the long term needs and viability of the school and whether it will be best served by becoming an academy. They will also need to consider whether the HfL MAT has the resources and capacity to support the school effectively at that particular time. We therefore carry out due diligence on the current performance of the school, whichever route they may be taking. The Regional Schools Commissioner and his/her Headteacher Board, as well as the Trust, will need to consider the value that both the converting school and existing academies in the Trust gain from the application.
Due diligence is intended to be a fully collaborative process and not an inspection. The HfL MAT team will work with members of the school’s leadership team to review key areas of the school’s work and to come to an agreed set of evaluations.
The process will vary according to circumstances and school location but could include a visit to the school of up to two days, working with the headteacher, finance officer and governor representatives to establish levels of achievement, quality of provision and staffing, financial overview and the capacity of the leadership team to secure improvement. In advance of the school visit, the MAT representative will review any relevant evidence available. This may include the school’s website, school’s self-evaluation, improvement plan, and performance data.
During the visit, the MAT representative will work with school leaders to gather evidence at first hand and may therefore engage in any of a range of agreed activities such as lesson visits, walk of the site, discussion with pupils, scrutiny of work, and review of financial statements. They will reflect, with key personnel, on the observations made and arrive at an agreed evaluation in each of the key areas identified on the summary form.
The outcomes of the due diligence exercise will be put together in a summary overview to be presented to Trustees for consideration before approval to proceed with the application for conversion. This information is therefore intended to provide information to all parties in order to inform decision-making and ongoing improvement planning. It is the intention of the HfL MAT that all schools will be able to join the MAT but in some circumstances, plans and agreements will need to be put in place before formally joining the Trust.