During the Education Committee’s inquiry into MATS , the Sutton Trust’s Chain Effects lead author Professor Merryn Hutchings gave evidence to the committee alongside the Education Policy Institute’s Natalie Perrera, the NFER’s Karen Wespieser, and Dr Melanie Ehren from UCL. Professor Hutchings said that while “some chains do appear to have transformed the chances of their disadvantaged pupils, most are pretty average and don’t make much difference.”

The panel was asked what criteria should be used by the government as a “health check” to ascertain whether a MAT should be allowed to expand or not, which is in response to a recommendation made by the Sutton Trust for underperforming chains to be prevented from expansion. Various accountability measures were suggested, such as Ofsted inspections, progress and attainment measures, and even looking at the number of schools it already has. Prof Hutchings added that there were too few regional schools commissioners and their jurisdictions were too big for them to offer sufficient oversight.

Committee members Lucy Frazer MP, a Conservative QC, and Stephen Timms, a former Labour Schools Minister, both mentioned the Sutton Trust’s policy recommendations in prior evidence sessions, drawing praise from National Schools Commissioner Sir David Carter and Ark Chief Executive Lucy Heller who called the Sutton Trust’s report “brilliant” and “incredibly important ” respectively.

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