Multi-Academy Trusts are steadily moving towards becoming the dominant model in our education system. As of March 2017, approximately 23%, a figure of over 6000, of all schools in England and Wales had Academy status. Between them, these made up 1249 Multi-Academy Trusts, an increase of over 300% in the past 6 years.
Multi-Academy Trusts form to collaborate and operate harmoniously as a group. This collaboration however can present big challenges in how to implement, manage and maintain it. Continual budget-cuts, alongside increased performance pressures and technology adoption requirements, make the job of a Trust CEO or Business Manager a difficult one to say the least.
Every Trust is unique, with its own strengths and weaknesses. Having autonomy from the local authority gives Trusts the freedom to determine where their focus should be and how best to grow sustainably.
Use ICT in your Trust to aid learning and management
Consistent and reliable ICT provision is a pre-requisite in schools. It should enable learning and support the needs of management. It is essential to have a clear ICT strategy advocated by senior management. Outside expertise can be obtained to advise on the latest technologies available and how these are applicable to an educational environment. Technology is a continually changing field and staying on top of it a job in itself.
If designed to meet the vision and values of the Multi-Academy Trust, the ICT strategy becomes an essential aspect within the organisation. Benefits can be found in a wide-range of use cases; scale can be used to gain cost-savings, all schools can be managed on the same systems, and the model can be designed to easily on-board new schools as the Trust expands.
Take your Multi-Academy Trust into the cloud
The government are actively encouraging schools to look at cloud computing services – these can drive innovation and meet compliance expectations. The latest guidance can be accessed here. In order to successfully operate a cloud-based Management Information System (MIS), the infrastructure across the Trust needs to be able to cater for this. A cloud MIS can allow data to be accessible from anywhere; to check pupil emergency contact data from any site, access a register when on an excursion, or allow management to view reporting information mid-meeting.
Cloud computing solutions have a huge added benefit for Trusts; they are generally a revenue-based model. Although there is usually some upfront investment required for infrastructure installation and setup, ongoing monthly costs are predictable and manageable.
Time and patience are key to building your new ICT plan
It can be a long road to migrate to a new system, there are realistic factors to consider, such as number of pupils, number of sites, quantity of data and staff retraining. These aspects are never a hindrance, just further reasons to begin by drawing up a clear ICT strategy. Over time, a Multi-Academy Trust can expect to make significant savings by moving to a cloud solution, even after all setup and training costs are accounted for.
An additional cost saving, which can be quantified if personally tracked, is time. This can bring the biggest benefit to students and their teachers. The students can be taught more effectively across different software and devices, enhancing their learning and development. The teachers can deliver lessons more reliably, share resources with one another and spread their expertise across the whole group of schools with advanced communication.
Achieve your collaboration goal
Taking control of your ICT to grow a sustainable Multi-Academy Trust is invaluable when aiming for the goal of true collaboration and efficiency. Although it can be a daunting project, the end reward is being able to securely use technology to advance the learning, teaching and management within your Trust.