HEALTH, education and business leaders could join together to create a Northumberland multi-academy trust (MAT).

Discussions are taking place between a group which is considering setting up a MAT – which is a trust which runs a group of academies under a shared funding agreement and a single governing body.

The suggestion was first mooted as part of the discussions over the reorganisation of educational structures in the west of the county, where there are a number of small, potentially vulnerable schools that are running deficits.

Providing an update to the county council’s family and children’s services committee on Thursday, March 7, Andy Johnson, the authority’s former director of education and now project lead for the changes in the west, said the proposal was at “very, very early stages”.

But individuals who had shown an interest included Sir Alan Craft of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, businessman Sir John Hall and Northumberland County Council’s cabinet member for children’s services Coun. Wayne Daley.

A meeting is to take place later this month to discuss the next steps.