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What Ofsted inspectors may consider during a summary evaluation of a multi-academy trust (MAT)

An inspector talking to a MAT CEO or leader about the Ofsted inspection
Ofsted summary evaluations of multi-academy trusts (MAT's)

MAT summary evaluations are not inspections and are conducted with the cooperation and consent of the MAT being assessed. In their review, Ofsted consider key information about the MAT, such as academy inspection results, discussions with MAT leaders, and survey visits to a few of the MAT's academies. As part of this review, Ofsted aim to provide helpful recommendations for aspects of the MAT that can be improved, and also to highlight areas where the MAT is enhancing the quality of education at its academies.

To reach their conclusions, Ofsted inspectors will take into account all the evidence gathered. Although the discussion and evidence presented can be wide-ranging, they will be firmly focused on impact, both for the pupils served by the MAT and in terms of raising standards and improving the quality of education offered, including through the performance of its academies.

In practice, inspectors will tailor their focus according to the circumstances of a given MAT.

These examples are not exhaustive or a checklist, but they may be some of the areas that inspectors are likely to focus on.

Based on the MAT's delegation scheme and governance structure, inspectors are likely to consider:

  • the impact the MAT has on its academies, including what elements of education are uniform across the MAT, where the MAT allows academies more autonomy and how the MAT addresses underperformance; this is not to make a judgement about the MAT’s preferred approach, rather it is about enhancing inspectors’ understanding of the MAT’s operating model and the impact this has on improving outcomes for its pupils

  • whether curriculum decisions are made centrally or locally at the academy level and the impact on the pupils. We have no preferred model of curriculum decision-making; again, the focus here is the impact on raising standards and meeting pupils’ needs

  • how policies are made, implemented, reviewed and evaluated, and the impact they have on pupils

  • what the MAT’s intentions and ambitions are, especially in relation to the curriculum taught within its academies, and how these are communicated, understood, implemented and monitored across the MAT

  • how the MAT identifies its strengths and weaknesses, including in terms of the quality of education provided by individual academies, and how it secures improvements

  • the effectiveness of leadership of the MAT, including how staff recruitment, development and management work across the MAT

  • how the MAT trustees work with the MAT leaders, including how they set priorities, monitor their implementation and constructively hold leaders to account

  • how MAT trustees review their own effectiveness and how independent members assess whether the MAT is performing well

  • governance arrangements within the MAT, and how MAT-level decision-making takes account of the needs of local leaders and individual academies

  • the MAT’s work in relation to safeguarding and management of pupils’ behaviour and attitudes

In relation to the curriculum and the quality of education offered at the academies in the MAT, inspectors are likely to explore:

  • how the curriculum is designed and the extent to which the MAT makes curricular decisions and/or maintains oversight of the academy’s decisions

  • how curriculum development is informed and by whom

  • the extent to which the curriculum serves the needs of academies in the MAT and those of their pupils

  • how the curriculum is implemented, and how its impact is monitored and improved

  • how the MAT balances support and intervention

  • the extent to which good practice is disseminated effectively and weak performance identified and tackled

In terms of the leadership and management of, and across, the MAT, inspectors will be likely to explore:

  • the MAT’s system of checks and balances

  • the extent to which, and how, the MAT supports the improvement of its academies, including its effectiveness in analysing strengths and weaknesses either across the MAT or in individual academies

  • the MAT’s approach to recruitment, retention and development of staff at all levels

  • the effectiveness of governance arrangements, including in the exercise of delegated responsibilities[footnote 3]

  • how the MAT ensures that the pupils in its care are kept safe

  • how all levels of the MAT, from local academy leadership teams all the way up to the independent members, hold each other to account and how they know that the MAT is having a positive impact on its academies and the quality of education it offers

  • how policies are implemented and reviewed, and whether they are adapted to meet local need

Inspectors will also explore how the MAT and its academies manage pupils’ behaviour and attitudes, including:

  • how relevant polices are developed, implemented and monitored for their effectiveness

  • how the MAT ensures that behaviour management leads to well-behaved and well-motivated pupils with positive attitudes

  • the extent to which the MAT’s challenge and support of its academies is helping to improve pupils’ behaviour and attendance

  • how staff at all levels are supported in implementing behaviour policies

  • how the MAT uses and monitors exclusions

  • where relevant, the MAT’s approach to the use of any alternative provision and and/or managed moves

As already mentioned, the examples listed above are not exhaustive nor intended as a checklist. The inspectors will discuss these themes with MAT representatives and staff at all levels, including local academy leaders, governors and teachers. Discussion in these meetings will be shaped by the results of the batched inspections in stage 1 and any evidence from discussions with MAT leaders in stage 2. Inspectors will tailor evidence-gathering activities to the MAT's specific circumstances and explore particular themes accordingly.

For more information about the summary evaluations of multi-academy trusts carried out by Ofsted - view their guidance here.

MATvista is a unique tool for supporting MAT's with quality assurance, self-evaluation, strategic planning and risk assessment. It helps MAT's demonstrate the following:

  • How they assess individual academies' strengths and weaknesses, including how they improve education quality.

  • The way MAT trustees work with MAT leaders, such as how they set priorities, monitor their implementation, and constructively hold them accountable.

  • The process by which MAT trustees evaluate their own effectiveness and how independent members assess whether the MAT is performing well.

  • Good practices are effectively disseminated and weak performance is identified and addressed.

  • The MAT's support for academies' improvement, including its capacity for identifying strengths and weaknesses in individual academies and the trust as a whole.

  • The ways in which all levels of the MAT, from local academy leadership teams to the independent members, hold each other to account and make sure the MAT does have a positive impact on the academies and the quality of education it provides.

See how MATvista can help your trust with an online demonstration or free trial.


We've found the best way to discuss MATvista is using Zoom, Teams or GoogleMeet. We can talk about your requirements and we’ll share our screen to show you how it's tailored to your trust.

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