Responding to a new survey of multi-academy trusts by The Key, Director of New Schools Network, Unity Howard, said:

"Since the 2010 reforms began, the ability to challenge conventional ideas on curriculum and staff development has been a driver to the success of the multi-academy trust model. The fresh ideas from trusts such Dixons and Star Academies have transformed education. It is worrying that these findings suggest 89% of trust leaders feel inhibited to innovate - this is a step back for these reforms. Sensible and effective accountability is essential to ensuring an autonomous system works, but it must facilitate trust leaders to take decisions they believe will raise standards in their schools and transform the life chances of their pupils.

"The role of CEO of an academy trust has developed enormously over this decade. The fact that only 46% of trusts feel well prepared to make strategic decision highlights the growing importance of NSN’s Academy Ambassadors Programme. The programme places high calibre business people as non-executive directors on boards of multi-academy trust. Their expertise is vital in providing strategic direction and business acumen to support and challenge the CEO. We must encourage all MATs to engage with the programme and bolster their financial, HR and growth expertise to increase their confidence to innovate and challenging existing ideas."

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