How to get your MAT connected with technology | Edexec – Ed Exec

Multi-academy trusts (MATs) are built around collaboration; grouping academies together into one charitable group fosters the opportunity for them to share work and create positive opportunities for students across the trust. However, barriers such as incompatible systems and isolated data are stopping MATs from reaching their full potential. How, then, can SBLs use existing technology to break down these barriers and get their MATs connected?
Knowledge and data 
As stated in a report by BESA, there are currently 1,170 MATs in the UK that manage at least two schools, which means that there are 1,170 opportunities to for knowledge-sharing.  MATs are a great place to share best practice and improvement strategies with newly converted academies in order to give them the best path for success. Existing academies can share information – including lesson planning, feedback techniques and assessment data collection – but, in order to share knowledge successfully, MATs need data. 
Data can be collected from student attendance, assessment or behaviour, but successful collection requires a consistent approach to make reporting and analysis easier and truly useful. Data can be collected and shared between academies or centrally directly with the trust but, without the right technology, MATs will not be able to realise the full benefits.
Cloud technology
Cloud technology is becoming increasingly valuable for schools. As discussed in previous articles, cloud tech can boost accessibility in schools and promote student and staff wellbeing. Cloud technology aids knowledge-sharing by streamlining internal communications and minimising the time spent on combining spreadsheets, giving SBLs time to use their data to make decisions and take meaningful actions in their MATs.
Cloud technology is also a cost-effective tool for connectivity. Compared to internal school servers  – which are often carbon wasteful – cloud technology has reduced energy consumption leading to lower bills, can be purchased in packages best suited to individual MATs and help to maintain and upgrade IT infrastructure. 
Cyber risks 
However, as technology evolves, so do the potential risks. The Netwrix 2022 Cloud Data Security Report found that 47% of educational institutions had suffered a cyber attack on their cloud infrastructure within the last 12 months. To support their MATs, schools can implement a trust-wide security approach to minimise these vulnerabilities.
Schools must understand the different threats they are susceptible to. Online learning has created a larger surface area for cyber attacks, as students and staff have less protection at home than in school, and weaknesses in devices and security systems make it easier for attackers to compromise accounts and gain access to sensitive information. So, as discussed in our latest issue of Education Executive, schools must look internally to manage their potential cyber risks. 
As the number of MATs in the UK continues to grow, and with the most recent schools white paper calling for all schools to be part of a MAT by the end of 2023, knowledge-sharing is becoming increasingly important for communicating best practice and data. As MATs continue to grow in number, cloud technology can play a huge part in supporting communication within and between academies.

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