Research finds MATs spend less on expenses but more on teaching staff

Research finds MATs spend less on expenses but more on teaching staff

An economic review examining the evolving MAT landscape has been launched. The report investigates the extent to which joining or establishing a Single Academy Trust (SAT) or Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) results in economies of scale and efficiencies

The Economic Benefits of Joining or Establishing a Multi-Academy Trust, undertaken by Stone Group in conjunction with the Education Policy Institute (EPI), looks at the financial efficiencies of joining or establishing a Single Academy Trust (SAT) or Multi-Academy Trust (MAT). Findings include how much MATs save on running expenses compared to LA schools, the implications of these savings for spend on teaching staff, savings made when geographic “clusters” of MAT schools reach “critical mass” and more.

Overall, the new research by the EPI found that MATs spend less per pupil on running expenses and more on teaching staff than local authority (LA) schools, according to the report.

Running expenses, which includes everything from back office and administrative costs to cleaning and catering, are a significant part of school expenditure. At secondary level, schools in MATs spend £1,490 per pupil compared to £1,539 in LA schools – that’s a saving of £49 per pupil. Savings are also made at primary level but this figure reduces to £6 per pupil, but per pupil expenditure on teaching staff in primary schools in MATs is still £23 per pupil higher than in LA schools.

With larger MATs (those comprising of 11 academies up to around 70) having higher average academy distances, the report identified how technology can help overcome geographical barriers, improve efficiencies and reduce costs.

Geography is significant in determining the extent to which economies of scale exist, with schools in MATs more closely clustered spending less per pupil on back office costs. The report finds that costs rise by 0.5 pence per pupil per km. But size matters – medium sized MATs (six to 10 academies) spend less than smaller MATs (five or fewer).

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Author of the report, Jon Andrews, director for School System and Performance at EPI, commented: “As the number of academies continues to grow, MATs are playing an increasingly important role in education in England. As schools come under increasing pressure to find efficiencies, our analysis looks specifically at the extent to which schools joining multi-academy trusts can save money through ‘economies of scale’.

“We find that secondary schools in MATs are currently spending £49 per pupil less on running costs than local authority schools and that MATs can save money by standardising practices and services including computer systems.

“This effect is strongest once MATs reach a critical mass of around three to six academies. There is however, striking variation in back office spending between MATs of similar sizes, suggesting that there is potential to further reduce costs. If more MATs are able to realise these savings, it will mean more money for teaching and learning.”

The report: “The Economic Benefits of Joining or Establishing a Multi-Academy Trust” is free to download here.

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