Academy trusts look to expansion to enhance finances


Nearly half of academy trusts view expansion as a means of boosting their finances and removing some of the pressures placed upon them.

According to a survey by the National Governance Association, 48% of multi-academy trusts view financing and resourcing as a key driver for adding schools to their portfolio.

Around 1,800 school trustees participated in the survey, with the NGA’s director of policy and information, Sam Henson, suggesting that trusts are feeling pressured to expand.

“There is still very much an idea in people’s minds that the bigger you get the stronger you get and the better position you are in financially, but a lot of that is rooted in those early ideas of what being a trust of a certain size can offer,” he explained.

Understanding the benefits of larger academy trusts

Such thoughts were found to be prevalent among smaller trusts, with 55% of those with five or fewer academies listing finance and resources as a reason for expanding.

In addition, that view was shared by 51% of trustees with between six and ten academies, although the figure plummeted to 29% of those with more 11 academies or more.

A further report from the Key in 2019 revealed that many leaders of academy trusts viewed expansion as a means of reducing some of the financial pressures they face, even if they had concerns over what may result from growth.

Remembering the importance of focusing on learning outcomes

While finance was undoubtedly a key driver for many academy trusts, 73% said that growth would help deliver better outcomes for pupils.

The chief executive of the Confederation of School Trusts, Leora Cruddas, said such an approach was reassuring, although finances also have a vital role to play.

“It is understandable – because trusts are organisations that have to be financially sustainable – that they would want to grow to a size where they can be financially sustainable,” she explained.