Don’t take decisions which harm other trusts, Carter warns academy leaders

Academy bosses should not be taking decisions which have a negative impact on other trusts, Sir David Carter has warned.

One of the “biggest challenges” Carter said he faces as national schools commissioner is preventing a system of “isolated” academy trusts as schools continue converting their status over the next 10 years.

Carter addressed members of the Association of School and College Leaders at the organisation’s annual conference in Birmingham this afternoon, and said current school leaders need to step up and become executive heads or chief executives.

Don’t take a decision on behalf of your trust that’s going to have a negative impact on someone else’s

However, schools often find themselves operating in a competitive environment – with constrained funding meaning schools have to work to attract the maximum number of pupils in an area.

A teacher shortage in certain parts of the country also means trusts competing for the best staff.

But Carter said chief executives of trusts needed to understand their job was part of a broader education system and required leaders to work collectively.

“At the macro level, at a very simple level, don’t take a decision on behalf of your trust that’s going to have a negative impact on someone else’s,” he told delegates.

“One of my big challenges as national schools commissioner is that … if [academy trusts] are not collaborative with other trusts, and other teaching schools, we’re going to have an isolated system on a different scale in 10 years time.”

Describing chief executives as the “guardians of the trust’s moral purpose”, Carter said the most successful academy chains did not consider themselves a collection of individual schools but thought about improvement across all of their schools.

The commissioner also insisted that leadership culture means “growing people who lead differently”, and said the strongest leaders “are not clones of one another”.

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  1. Surely academies are now competing with one another for pupils?

    Is that not the model thrust upon them when converting to a free market system?

    Primary Schools have traditionally not been attracted to joing a MAT and being a junior partner to the dominant secondary but if they form a horizontal arrangement with other primaries, they are in direct competition with them for pupils, staff and external services.

  2. What nonsense is this? You set up a system build an an assumption that competition and choice drive standards and then complain because the schools within it behave precisely as expected. I have got news for David Carter, if you wanted a collaborative rather than competitive system you should have left the system alone because it encouraged schools to work together in sensible geographical clusters. It was utterly predictable that trusts would behave like businesses as all the drivers encourage them down that route. It’s feeble to start exhorting them to now start behaving against their own individual best interests now that those responsible for the system have finally woken up to its drawbacks. Risible.

    • In fact surely if we have an education market, with competing Trusts which is the Governments explicit intention, and they then “collaborate” they are then operating a cartel. I thought cartels illegal.

  3. Sir David is showing utterly pathetic leadership on this.
    We now have a system where schools that need help are being totally rejected by Multi Academy Trusts. When the system was Local Authority led, the LA had an obligation to its local population to support local schools and particularly those needing help. A MAT only has an obligation to the money men.
    On one thing Sir David is correct. If the system carries on like this it is going to be on a different scale in 10 years’ time.
    Do not castigate those doing exactly what the system has forced them to do. Blaming MATs gives the politicians an excuse for the mess. If you genuinely believe in a system that educates the whole population it’s time to show real leadership.
    Time to speak truth to power, Sir David. Time to tell it like it is to those who can do something. The government!