Feefo logo
0333 234 1447
Mon-Fri: 9am to 5pm | Sat-Sun: Closed


Top tips for keeping your growing multi-academy trust (MAT) safe and compliant

First uploaded: September 2023

With the largest multi-academy trust (MAT) currently operating over 90 schools, the average MAT running up to seven, and with MATs employing on average 40%+ of the staff that work within this sector, risk management, like any organisation with multiple sites, can prove challenging.

Education sector fines

In recent years, fines served in the education sector have had implications beyond monetary impact, such as poor publicity and disgruntled parents. Disregard of risk management can take a compliant academy trust to one that is facing legal and reputational consequences. As the volume of schools joining trusts increases, so do the chances of an Academy facing an incident and being fined by the regulator - the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Recently we have seen some trusts being fined, including The Spencer Academies Trust who were fined due to poor management of infectious diseases, and, similarly, some notable prosecutions and fines of councils; most recently, Newcastle City Council was fined £280,000 due to the death of a child. Fines are relative to the application by the court of the sentencing guidelines and depend upon several factors. What we may see going forward is that trusts are fined significant sums of money which previously would have been directed at the local authority. These fines are now the sole responsibility of the Trust.

How can you prevent or take steps to mitigate the risk?

Internal management of health & safety (H&S) can be beneficial; however, it is good practice for a trust to have both internal and external perspectives. An external consultant can provide an independent perspective which gives you the confidence and peace of mind that your trust is doing all that is reasonably possible to manage its risk effectively.

Risk MATs growth blog image 2 v2.png

Tips for managing your Trust’s health and safety (H&S):

  • Target incremental changes to your MATs culture, rather than approaching as a box-ticking exercise. Aim to build staff awareness (particularly those staff responsible for the condition of the premises) and bring them onboard in a way that helps them understand the implications and encourages ownership.

  • Speak with your staff, and stress test policies and procedures. Don’t assume that policies and procedures are going to be followed completely. Ensure that your staff are involved and that, gaps are identified, and remedial actions undertaken.

  • Avoid single person dependencies. Think about succession planning where caretakers and site managers are dependent upon for knowledge and experience; consider how you will ensure continuity when those individuals leave.

  • Grow at a manageable pace. Taking on new schools should mean that a Trust undertakes relevant due diligence to understand the risks of a new school being added to your MAT.

  • Ensure that you have the resources to scale. MATs should be prepared to scale, and we can help you to get into this position.

  • Ensure that governors, trustees, and your C-suite are actively visible in your schools. Leadership of risk management is fundamental to your success.

Taking on a new school, things to consider:

  • When was the last H&S Audit undertaken?

  • When was the last Fire Risk Assessment undertaken?

  • Is there an Asbestos survey and Legionella Risk Assessment in place?

  • Is there staff training in place and is it regularly reviewed?

  • Ensure a 3–5-year estate strategy plan is in place.

  • Establish stringent processes to manage contractors and building works.

  • It is good practice to have risk estate management steps, such as Escape of Water (EoW) prevention and thermographic surveys of electrical distribution boards.

  • Considering all of the above, have the recommendations been undertaken and what are the remedial steps outstanding?

To achieve safe and compliant outcomes, Endsleigh are here to help and support you with the following:

  • Deliver training to your C-suite (and to trustees and governors) so that they understand their risks, responsibilities, and accountabilities, and how they can play their part in keeping the trust safe and compliant.

  • Provide a quick and easy overview of your MAT’s compliant status, steps you can take to improve, and thereafter help you apply risk management strategies across your estate.

  • Supply templated risk management documents to support your MAT, such as policies and risk assessments.

  • Provide an easy-to-use online compliance tool developed by iAM Compliant, that enables you to keep on top of your day-to-day health and safety risks, estates management, statutory reporting, and staff training requirements.

  • Provide tailored insurances such as: public liability, employer’s liability, buildings and contents, cyber, business interruption, directors and officers, professional indemnity, commercial crime, motor fleet, engineering, legal expenses.

As well as risk management and commercial insurance, Endsleigh also provides mental health and wellbeing services to the education sector. We currently support more than one million students with their mental health in partnership with schools, universities, and student accommodation providers. Our Pupil Assistance Programme, developed in partnership with Health Assured, the UK and Ireland's most trusted independent health and wellbeing provider, provides 24/7 BACP accredited wellbeing support to pupils aged 11-18 years old, their parents, guardians, and teachers as well as mental health first aid training, specialist adolescent clinical support, and digital CBT support for caregivers and pupils.

Get in touch to discuss how we can support your risk management.

Call us on 0333 234 1146, or email riskmanagement@endsleigh.co.uk.

Read our content disclaimer