Case studies

Recent research involving MAT leaders

Nowadays, our clients often like to hear direct from MAT leaders and we routinely advise a separate focus for this market segment, if appropriate. For example, by including a number of interviews as a supplement to a survey, or if the target audience is schools, including some participants who are both headteachers and MAT CEOs.

These are some of our most recent projects in which clients specifically asked for strong contributions from MAT leaders:


CPD provider merger and acquisition: Our client, a leading management consultancy asked us, as part of a service to their own client, involved in the acquisition of a major CPD provider, to recruit and conduct 40 interviews with MAT and academy leaders. The timeframe was extremely short: we recruited on Friday, with interviews beginning over the weekend and due for completion on the following Tuesday, with transcriptions (made by humans) being made available at latest overnight. Having achieved the required 50/50 split of leaders by the Tuesday (and all transcripts by the following day), the client then asked for a further seven MAT leaders – all from trusts using their client’s products, by the end of the week. This was delivered on time too.

The client did not require reporting for this research, having listened in and being in receipt of transcripts, but we also gave them the benefit of our impression of the responses overall against their key objectives, bringing to bear our understanding of the market gathered over several MAT-focused projects.

This client has worked with us for many years in this way, trusting our ability to meet their (often extremely demanding) needs, and in the skills of our experienced moderators – all educationalists themselves, with a good understanding of the commercial requirements of clients at the high stakes end of the education market.


MIS development consultation: The new owners of a leading MIS asked Schoolzone to recruit MAT leaders to help them develop the MIS to make it better suited to the needs of MATs, via a dashboard for pupil data. The research came in several rounds: for each we recruited a series of head teachers, assessment leaders and, increasingly as the project continued and the client’s thinking developed, MAT leaders.

The challenge was to find a spectrum of leaders at appropriate positions across a range of MAT types: users and non-users, larger and smaller MATs, different phase mixes and so on, and to meet the demanding timeframes in each round. Our client wanted feedback as their planning developed, to inform the next stage – in each case, feedback was required in the following week – and with representatives from MATs who had not taken part previously.

We achieved success in all rounds, with a very accurate match to the client’s profiling requirements in each case and always within the desired timeframe.


MIS acquisition due diligence: As so often the case with M&A work, our client needed a fast response in order to support the purchase of a leading MIS system, in July 2021. They wanted 400 responses from leaders in MATs and their separate academies ‘by tomorrow’. Thankfully, the survey they had written was well written and we were able to build, gain client approval and test it all within six hours. It only required two hours in the field to reach quota and we were able to send data and frequency tables that same evening.

This client, very experienced in working with schools, said that this was the fastest response they had ever seen and somewhat regretted not asking for a bigger sample.

We manage these fast turnaround times because we have considerable experience in delivering within them thanks to 20 years working online and having a very large and responsive panel – not to mention a dedicated, client-focused team.


Education services interviews: This was another M&A piece for another long-standing client who knows that we can turn around such projects in very short time and with the quality of moderation that they expect from such high-stakes research. Interviews were to focus on the growth of MATs, the impact of Covid on academisation, how MATs decide on centralised purchasing and how they choose education service providers.

Schoolzone advised on the content and structure of the discussion guide and the most appropriate profile of respondents (all MAT leaders) and then recruited and conducted 15 interviews over the following week, providing transcripts on the same day in most cases. The client also appreciated being able to listen in and, via Zoom private messaging, to prompt with any further thoughts during the interviews.

We provided a summary written report against the client’s key objectives and presented findings online.