Trust without tender - how to become a supplier to Multi Academy Trusts

Business Insights

Adding Multi Academy Trusts to your contact database is a great way to save time and resources when targeting schools in the UK.

In a Multi Academy Trust (MAT), schools operate as separate entities within the trust, but the trust has overall responsibility and control for the direction and management.

Consequently, by obtaining a Trust's approval for your products and services you will be to magnify the reach of your marketing to all of the schools within the organisation.

If you are not familiar with the differences between governance models within the education system, it is often assumed that all schools follow the same purchasing and procurement rules, which is not the case.

Both single academy schools and those within a Multi Academy Trust are state-funded but are completely independent from local authorities.

As a result, an academy school operates in many of the same ways as a normal privately owned business. They can procure and purchase any goods or services from any chosen company.

A MAT is made up of a group of Academies who come together as a private company, with a Board of Trustees taking charge of all decision making on behalf of the member Academies, as opposed to the governors who oversee a maintained school.

The Department for Education directs funding to the Multi Academy Trust, which is then shared across all of the schools within the Trust.

Multi-Academy Trusts have been a championed by governments since their introduction in 2010.

England had just 154 Multi-Academy Trusts, responsible for 1,277 schools at the end of the 2016/17 academic year. There are now 1,460 Multi-Academy Trusts, responsible for more than 8,000 schools.

The Government is also expected to set a target for all schools to become academies by 2030. ear.

This is clearly a lucrative market to enter. However, knowledge of a target market is not the same as being able to break into it.

Multi Academy Trusts making their own purchasing decisions does offer significant opportunities for private sector suppliers that you won't find anywhere else in the public sector.

Over 8,000 companies in the UK have used More Than Words Marketing's education data and marketing services.

These are some of the insights we have gathered about selling to Multi-Academy Trusts.

School leaders require tailored marketing

When consulting with key decision makers at the trust level, you may be contacting the Chief Executive Officer, the Executive Head Teacher, the Chief Financial Officer, or even a Business Manager.

The most important thing they will look at (and that you need to mention to them) is how scalable your product or service is so that it can be rolled out across the trust.

Send an information package to Academy leaders that covers points such as scalability, possibilities for professional development or school improvement, and outlooks for better educational outcomes for pupils.

Each senior leader can then discuss this other stake holders and decision makers. If you are going to trial something in a single Academy initially, MAT leaders will want to know it is scalable.

Facilitate collaborative purchasing among schools

Due to significant pressure on school budgets, schools are being urged to make full use of collaborative purchasing.

The collaborative procurement process involves public bodies collaborating to jointly purchase goods and services.

This allows Multi Academy Trusts, including each individual school to obtain better deals from suppliers by pooling resources.

Suppliers should make clear how they can support schools with collaborative purchasing offers for a school group.

Project and account management

Academy Schools and Trust are governed by a process, have a structure and have a large emphasis on accountability.

When compared to their private-sector counterparts, education clients can seem exceptionally demanding.

They'll expect clear deadlines, specifications, and regular updates.

But if you provide the necessary, relevant and concise information to them consistently, on a regular basis, you will have an easier time managing them.

To find out more about marketing to schools with More Than Words Marketing, or to order a Multi Academy Trust or UK schools database, please call 0330 010 8300 or email