Schoolzone: Are bigger MATS more efficient?

Are bigger MATS more efficient?


10 Feb 2017

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One of the driving factors behind the MAT philosophy is that these collaborations bring out the best in schools, whether through sharing talent or pooling resources. In discussions about MATS, there's often a lot of talk about how big a MAT has to be to maximise efficiency - what's the critical mass? It's been very difficult to get an idea of this because there's no consistent way to measure it.

Well, the DfE now produces efficiency ratings for schools: a "progress-per-pound measure" - details below. This is based on comparing each school to 49 statistical near neighbours and ranking them into deciles, where 1 is the most efficient. So we gathered this data on 1,478 MAT academies and then looked at the number of academies in each MAT. We banded them as in the table below - four roughly equal sizes in terms of numbers in each (more in the smallest band) and took an average of the efficiency deciles in each band.

Size band Average of Efficiency decile
< 10 5.40
10 to 14 6.03
15 to 39 6.12
40+ 5.87
Size band Average of Efficiency decile
< 10 5.67
10 to 14 6.46
15 to 39 6.12
40+ 6.33

First, note that anything higher than 5 is less efficient than average - so all MAT academies are less efficient than average.

Note that secondary MAT academies are less efficient than primaries.

Generally, the bigger the MAT, the less efficient its academies.


Note - if the bands are re-drawn so that the range of school numbers is about the same in each band, the same pattern can be seen.



The Department has defined school efficiency as the progress made by pupils in a school (measured by value added attainment) relative to the level of income the school receives per pupil. It can also be understood as a progress-per-pound measure. Efficiency is measured relative to a group containing your school and 49 similar schools.

Within a group of similar schools, we assign schools to deciles (10 groups of 5) depending on how much progress is made relative to the income received. An efficiency decile of 1 indicates that a school is among the 5 most efficient schools in its peer group. An efficiency decile of 5 indicates that a school is more efficient than at least half of its peer group (which is 25 of 50 schools).

The Department has created groups of statistically similar schools with reference to the 'Ever 6 FSM' measure and the proportion of pupils with Special Educational Needs in a school. We chose these characteristics as they were found to have the greatest impact on progress per pound. We have not used proximity or location as a factor. Doing so reduces the similarity of schools on the most important characteristics. The schools in your group have different levels of funding, though schools with higher funding must have higher attainment to be considered relatively efficient.


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