South York MAT (SYMAT), with Fulford School as its founder, was established on 1 January 2018. This followed an extensive period of discussion with a number of local schools who wanted to assume collective and strategic control of their joint ambitions, vision and values.
The strong and diverse group of church and community schools who have collaborated to work together and develop our MAT provides a great base to build on. While there remains some way to go on the conversion journey, our current membership includes two primary and a junior school in addition to Fulford, with a further six partner schools with academy orders linked to joining the MAT.
Our vision is to be “a strong and inclusive partnership of schools working together to support and inspire all children, young people and families in our communities to achieve and flourish”. We firmly believe it is our responsibility to ensure all the children in our schools have the best possible education and support to fulfil their potential – both academically, and as citizens.
Our growth strategy is rooted in ensuring there are joint benefits and opportunities for all. Expansion for its own sake isn’t part of our vision. While we are certainly looking to create greater financial and educational efficiency – through joint working, sharing of resources, developing and deploying best practices and constructive challenge and review – it’s fundamental that we balance this with a strong ethos of earned autonomy. Our financial position, though tight, is sound – while there is no room for complacency, we have a track record to be quietly proud of.
At the beginning of this year, Lorna Savage added the challenging role of Founding CEO to her Headteacher responsibilities, and has done an excellent job in both arenas. We now want to appoint a new person to take on this role, but we recognise that it is unlikely that even the strongest candidates will bring the complete repertoire of skills, and detailed knowledge of Fulford School and the SYMAT, from the outset.
The Trust has therefore asked Lorna to remain in the CEO role on a part-time basis (1-1.5 days/week) for a short period, to support a comprehensive and orderly transition to her successor. It can’t be stressed enough that both the Trustees and Lorna see this period as lasting only as long as it’s needed, and in a way which won’t constrain her successor’s autonomy as a system leader.
Chair Designate (from Jan 2019) of Trustees, South York Multi Academy Trust