Home / MAT Peer Review (designed and facilitated by Forum Strategy)
MAT Peer Review (designed and facilitated by Forum Strategy)

The MAT Peer Review process has worked well for our trust in helping us take a closer look at our own practice and that of another trust of a similar scale. We enjoyed the initial process of identifying our trust’s focus area as this helped us have very honest team reflection of where our trust was succeeding and where we should place more scrutiny. Working with a MAT who had no working knowledge of ours was invaluable as they asked questions of us based on very few assumptions, which we don’t feel would be possible had we been involved in a peer review process with a local trust. The reports produced by Forum Education, in addition to their excellent facilitation gave us confidence in the process and we believe this has led to our own improvement as a trust.

Paul Stone, CEO Discovery Schools Academy Trust

“Academy Peer Review is an intrinsic part of our academy improvement cycle and we were keen to explore this at MAT level.  The opportunity to participate in a MAT to MAT Peer Review, facilitated by Forum Education, enabled a self and external spotlight on one of our strategic improvement priorities. Throughout the process of the survey and review day we were able to involve all stakeholders in evaluating the impact of our work. The feedback in the report highlighted strengths in our practice and made recommendations on next steps for us to consider with all stakeholders

We can highly recommend this as a very worthwhile process and one we hope to repeat in the next academic year.”

Helen Rowland, CEO of Focus-Trust

We strongly believe that the future success of multi-academy trusts is based on focused collaboration and peer to peer learning, challenge and support. During times of growth and development, it is important to gain the insight and challenge of others to help inform our strategy and planning. Forum Strategy’s MAT to MAT peer review model is based on the very latest thinking and best practice in this area.

Not only is this programme grounded in the ethos and principles of effective peer review ( our five ‘C’s’ – concentrated, confidential, challenging, considerate and constructive), but it is also informed by our work with dozens of MATs and the very latest research and understanding available around the successful and sustainable growth of MATs.

Indeed, Forum Strategy facilitates and provides leadership development to five regional MAT CEO networks in England – working with many dozens of academy trusts across the country. We have developed a strong reputation for both training and consultancy that enables MATs to develop with care.

Our peer review process is based on the involvement of two participant MATs, who work together to undertake the review with supportive facilitation from Forum Strategy.

The peer review process involves:

Ø  An initial day’s training – including an introduction to your ‘peer trust’ and a self-audit session

Ø  A self-assessment process against a key development area

Ø  Four peer review visit days (two days per MAT)

Ø  A feedback session

Ø  A final report – produced by Forum Strategy and edited/signed of by the reviewer MAT – providing a summary and potential next steps for development


  • First day: pre-meet and training

This session is designed to encourage the two trusts involved to discuss eight key areas of sustainable academy trust development growth, including:

Vision and strategy


Being an employer and provider of choice;

Scalable school improvement ;

Organisational sustainability;

External relationships & social capital

Participant MATs are supported to review each area with care and to undertake self-audit with reference to the latest research, case studies and best practice around sustainable growth. This process is facilitated by Forum Education. By the end of the session, each MAT will have identified an area of focus for the review.

The session also involves some time to consider the ethos, ethics, principles and process surrounding effective peer review – ensuring that both parties are clear on approach and the parameters involved. Our participant MATs are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding to this effect.


  • Further self-assessment relating to the ‘key area’ of focus

Each trust will be provided with a self-assessment document and guidance relating to its identified key area of focus. The self-assessment document is based on the most credible research, best practice and case studies around multi-academy trust growth. It enables both trusts’ leadership teams to reflect on their MAT’s progress and its strengths and weaknesses against the core components of the area of development.

The self-assessment document is then shared (confidentially) with the partner trust before the visit, helping to inform the review.


  • Peer review visit (two daysin each trust)

The peer review visit is developed in a bespoke way depending on the area of focus. It is also developed in careful consultation with the trust being subject to the review. The day is likely to involve interviews with key members of staff; the review of key documentation – including data, planning, business plans, and minutes of meetings; and learning walks.

Forum Strategy provides a range of suggested lines of enquiry based on the self-assessment documentation, however, the reviewer MAT takes the lead (based on the ethos and principles of peer review).

The review visit is concluded with a feedback session involving the reviewed MAT’s CEO and two members of their team. The reviewer MAT then meets with Forum Strtagey to plan the final report for the reviewed MAT.


  • Report

Both MATs will receive a report of the peer review and recommended ‘next steps’ within three weeks of the review having taken place.


Forum Strategy can broker peer to peer reviews where a MAT has not identified a partner. For more information, please contact: [email protected]