Interesting to note the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, suggesting in his speech at the Confederation of School Trusts' Annual Conference that a 'try before you buy' approach was a 'new process' available for maintained schools wanting to test out a potential multi-academy trust partner.

In fact, it's not a new process at all! A number of our multi-academy trust clients and many other MATs have entered into contractual arrangements with maintained schools to supply a variety of services (eg school improvement and leadership). Often this is seen as the first stage of a relationship likely to develop into the maintained school joining the MAT when strong working relationships are forged and high levels of trust established. Is this another example of the DfE slowly catching up with the academy sector's lead?