In its comprehensive Sustainable improvement in multi-schools groups report, the government examined how multi-academy trusts (MATs) and federations work to recruit, develop and retain quality staff. Here’s a recap of the main findings:
Hiring top talent
Unsurprisingly, all MATs and federations surveyed for the report recognised how crucial it is to recruit and develop quality teachers and staff to build capacity and ensure sustainable school improvement. Though, at least one of the below-average performing schools admitted to not having a suitable strategy in place.
Promisingly, 95% of core MAT staff and 85% of heads agreed with the statement: ‘Teachers and other school-based staff regard this MAT as a good place to work.’ Teachers weren’t included in this survey, however; with the current concerns around workloads and retention, the report recognised this area needed further investigation.
HR supporting recruitment
Most MATs were found to have developed areas of HR to support their recruitment and development drive, while many restructured their Performance Management (PM) framework so expectations were more transparent and approach more aligned with the values and expected behaviours of the group.
One above-average MAT had also tweaked its pay and reward policies, which was hailed ‘motivational’ by middle leaders, and key to preventing career stagnation.
When interviewees were asked how they worked at MAT or federation level to mitigate workload pressures, 43% of MAT core members believed it’s an area schools manage autonomously. But there was obviously some confusion, as a combined 46% suggested it was something that’s aligned or standardised across the MAT.
Surprisingly, few case studies had a defined strategy for managing workloads, though many were working to streamline processes to support more efficient working and limit workload pressure. Some initiatives taken by MATs included moving to a single template and timescale for reporting to the central term, and adapting marking approaches to cut back on the amount of marking teachers had to do.
Most MATs and federations invested heavily in continuous professional development and learning (CPDL) for staff, with development needs often identified through PM frameworks. A total 85% of core team members and 76% of heads in MATs agreed that training and development across the group was well aligned with organisational and individual needs. The majority of programmes focused on aspects of pedagogy, though some dealt with curriculum-related developments and subject knowledge.
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