What many of us had anecdotally believed to be the case for a couple of years now, appears to have been confirmed as fact. Recently published figures show a marked reduction in the number of single-academy trusts (SATs) since 2016 with only 13% of academies now being standalone academies compared to 29% five years ago.
There are a variety of reasons for the decline, but chief amongst these will be increasing sustainability challenges for many single academies and increasing pressure from the Department of Education (DfE) on single academies to join multi-academy trusts (MATs); something which has accelerated even in the last few months.
Single academies can expect to come under more and more pressure to join a MAT and may wish to actively seek out a MAT with which they feel comfortable, perhaps to explore some collaborative arrangements before committing to join the MAT.
Small MATs should also expect to find themselves in the DfE's sights within a couple of years, with a challenge for them to grow or merge. Such MATs will be well advised to be proactive in determining their destiny and again some form of collaboration (with a similar-sized or larger MAT) may well be key to their survival.
Standalone and small multi-academy trusts will wither away as mergers fuel the growth of larger trusts, according to leaked Department for Education documents seen by Schools Week.