MAT CEOs: what does the role involve?


MAT CEO is a role which is relatively new in the world of education and can be difficult to define succinctly. If you work in a multi-academy trust (MAT) you will have a MAT CEO appointed who is responsible for the academies, staff and pupils in your trust. 

There will be many variables between MAT CEO roles such as size of the trust, salary and benefits, pupils on roll, strategic direction of the trust and how roles and responsibilities are delegated within the senior leadership team.

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In this article, we link to a number of MAT CEO job descriptions, look at the core responsibilities published by the Confederations of School Trusts and link to further information.

MAT CEOs: what do they do?

The role of a MAT CEO can be nebulous, leading on strategic leadership, setting and communicating a vision for the Trust, supporting headteachers to engaging with the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

The Confederation of School Trusts developed a draft set of Core Responsibilities for School Trust CEOs to try and create some uniformity for the role.

This followed a period of research and discussion with serving Trust CEOs and representatives of Ambition Institute. 

CST undertook a consultation on the draft Core Responsibilities between 30 September and 1 November 2021. The final version of the Core Responsibilities is now available here.

The Core Responsibilities are aimed at CEOs, those aspiring to the role, and the Trustees of School Trusts. The guidance can be used to:

  1. Inform professional development and support programmes for current and prospective Trust leaders;
  2. Support succession and growth planning within School Trusts; and
  3. Assist the performance management review process of School Trust CEOs

It explains the jobs purpose as

“A School Trust CEO is responsible for the education of all the young people in the Trust’s academies. They lead the Executive Team of the Trust, ensuring the Trust and all its schools are successful over time in a sustainable way. They provide high level strategic leadership and management across all aspects of the Trust’s activities.

They ensure that the Trust provides high quality education for all its pupils through the effective and efficient use of resources and people. As a system leader, the CEO represents the Trust with a wide range of stakeholders and partners and enables the Trust to fulfil its civic responsibilities. They are the Accounting Officer for the Trust, responsible for ensuring the Trust meets its statutory and legal requirements.”

MAT CEO: examples of job descriptions

SMART Multi Academy Trust in Newcastle upon Tyne has a job description for the role of CEO and accounting officer.

It explains that the CEO has the role and responsibility for directing all the operations of the Trust including the role of Accounting Officer. 

In particular, the CEO is responsible for delivering the successful operation of the schools in the Trust taking account of the primary objective of providing the best opportunities for all pupils whatever their background to fulfil their potential together with continuing school improvement for all the academies in the Trust.

Examples of specific activities of the role include: 

  • Ensure all academies within SMART MAT are fully prepared for Ofsted inspections and achieving at least consistently good outcomes
  • Have clear staff safer recruitment systems and staff development plans in place based on rigorous reviews of the staffing and resourcing base together with awareness of staff’s reasonable progression aims
  • Lead strategic planning and secure that the vision, values and ethos of the MAT are embedded and are evident in the daily life of the Academies
  • Provide reports as required to the Board and its committees including full analysis and guidance

Examples of essential skills and personal characteristics for the role include:

  • High level analytical, strategic planning and organisational skills
  • Ability to demonstrate business focus and commercially minded approach managing in the public sector with not for profit primary objectives
  • Dynamic, technically strong, articulate, insightful, commercially astute and influential leader with the ability to operate at both strategic and operational levels
  • Resilient and determined but able to provide support, demonstrate empathy and deal with staff and situations in a sensitive and considerate manner
  • Achieve challenging professional goals; ability to be reflective and self critical

Templefields MAT in Essex has a job description for a MAT CEO

It explains, as the CEO is also the day-to day head of one of the academies within the MAT, the role is in addition to the post-holder’s current school specific role with appropriate adjustment of current responsibilities to ensure reasonable workload.

Main responsibilities of the role include:

  • Co-ordinate the effective leadership of member academies in the absence of their Headteacher
  • Plan, implement and monitor effective Trust programmes to raise standards of academy, pupil and staff performance
  • Ensure compliance with the Trust’s Memorandum and Articles of Association and associated statutory, regulatory and legal requirements
  • Present on behalf of the Leadership Group, proposals, plans and policies to enable the Trust to raise standards of academy, pupil and staff performance and to run effectively, efficiently and compliantly
  • Plan, implement and monitor the Trust’s internal and external financial reporting with the support of the Trust’s financial management advisor

The Trust Board will create a sub-group, which will include external professional advice for the support and performance management of the CEO.

The post-holder will continue to be accountable to their Local Governing Body for the performance management in their position of Headteacher in their own academy

The National Governors Association and Forum Strategy has collaborated to publish a template job description for a MAT CEO

The job description sets out how CEOs should lead in six areas. These are that the CEO:

  1. Develops a leadership narrative that articulates the board’s vision and values in practice; and shapes the organisation’s ongoing development
  2. Builds an open, transparent and effective relationship with the governing board and its committees
  3. Ensures that the organisation is an ‘employer of choice’ and is staffed by talented and skilled individuals at all levels
  4. Enables improvement and disciplined innovation as an organisational habit
  5. Secures organisational sustainability and compliance
  6. Building external relationships: fostering social and professional capital

MAT CEOs: further reading

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