Athena Schools Trust

South East England and South London | Guildford
  • Corporate Governance
  • Human Resources
  • Non-executive/Trustee
Deadline date: 17th May 2019

Athena Schools Trust in Surrey seeks two non-executive directors; one with corporate governance experience who might consider taking on the chair role in due course and one with a senior background in HR leadership to join this newly formed trust overseeing four schools in and around Guildford. Board meetings are held in Guildford.

About the trust

The Athena Schools Trust is a new multi academy trust (MAT), formed in August 2018. It is a collaborative and equal partnership of four local schools: Guildford County School, Northmead Junior School, Pirbright Village Primary School, and Stoughton Infant School.  The schools share a common ethos, common aims, a common vision and a commitment to ensuring that they offer the best schools to our communities and deliver an outstanding education to every child.

Athena was set up by local schools to develop a MAT that sets high aspirations and goals for every school in the partnership. It believes in driving up educational standards and raising targets through collaborative school-to-school support and sharing best practice in teaching and learning. Teachers need more time to teach and the trust allows schools to focus on delivering excellent education by centralising services to achieve operational efficiencies. The MAT is not about direction from the top, but an all-inclusive approach to school improvement, delivering strong outcomes for all our young people and understanding the communities in which it operates.

There are a total of 2256 students on role and has a gross income of £11.5million. Of the four schools, two are rated Outstanding and two are rated Good. A further infant school (rated Outstanding) will be joining the trust in the near future.

The schools in the trust serve a broadly more affluent cohort than the national average. Disadvantaged totals in each school range from below to matching national averages, while SEN cohorts are more in line with national averages, with one school the exception and well above the national average. The secondary school is in the top 10% nationally for attainment and top 12% nationally for progress at Key Stage 4 (KS4), one Key Stage 2 (KS2) provider is in the top quintile for progress and top quartile for attainment. The other KS2 school has improved its attainment outcomes to match national averages, but is behind national trends for progress and in the 62% for progress. The two infant schools both present sound data profiles. One is very high attaining; top 5% national performance in reading at Key Stage 1 (KS1), while the other infant school is solidly in the second quartile for attainment and progress at KS1.

Plans for the future

The key challenges for the board over the next 12-24 months will be to:

  • Grow the Trust: Grow the trust, in terms of school numbers, and continue to build the skills and expertise within the Board, and Executive team, to deliver against our strategic plan .
  • Provide robust school improvement: It is the trust’s overriding mission to continually raise standards, support schools improve teaching and student outcomes and embed a rich and varied curriculum so that all schools can be rated outstanding in the future.
  • Financial constraints: Where possible find further efficiencies whilst driving income generation possibilities to meet the challenge of raising attainment in the current flat, or declining, funding scenario

Trust ethos & values

MISSION - Schools working together to give every child an excellent education.
VISION - To be the schools of choice in the community, offering outstanding education to every child .
VALUES - High Aspirations, Collaboration, Local Leadership, Creative and Inspiring Learning

Role summary

Number of positions advertised:


Trustees – or non-executive directors - are both charity trustees and company directors of the academy trust; the role is to hold to account the executive and senior leadership team. The board of trustees manages the business of the academy trust and may exercise all the powers of the trust. The trustees ensure compliance with the trust’s charitable objects and with company and charity law.

Role 1 – Trustee/Non-Executive Director

The trust welcomes experienced applicants who would be willing to lead, develop and coach a new board of trustees (who have limited Executive Board experience) and help them navigate the growth of a collaborative progressive MAT. As the current chair intends to stand down in the medium term, the trust seeks a candidate with charity trustee or other board experience who would consider taking on this role in due course. The chair will steer the board set its direction and agenda and take the lead in holding the executive to account.

Person specification
The competencies required for this role include:

  • Corporate Governance
  • Chair
  • Non-executive/Trustee

Time commitment
Currently, there are six Trust Board meetings a year. In addition, there are two Board Committees, both of which meet three or four times a year. It is expected that trustees will also sit on one of the Board committees. The Chair is not required to sit on a committee but will meet with the Executive Head on a regular basis. On average, the time commitment of a trustee will be five/six hours per month. The Chair role would be expected to add an additionally two hours per month.

Role 2 – Trustee/Non-Executive Director

The trust seeks a non-executive director to join a newly formed Board of Trustees and bring a level of experience and expertise within a senior and strategic HR role within the public, private or third sector.  

Person specification
The competencies required for this role include:

  • HR
  • Growth management
  • Succession Planning

Candidates should be an experienced senior level manager/director who is used to working in a highly collaborative way. Whilst Executive Board, Trustee, Governor or NED experience is not a prerequisite, individuals who have held any of these positions would bring essential skills to the board.

Time commitment
Currently, there are six Trust Board meetings a year. In addition, there are two Board Committees, both of which meet three or four times a year. In addition to attending Board meetings, it is expected that trustees will also sit on one of the Board committees. On average, the time commitment of a trustee will be five/six hours per month

Location of board meetings and trust website

Board meetings are held at Guildford County School, Farnham Road, Guildford, GU2 4LU. For more information, please see

Governance structure

Please see

Background on academy trusts

Academy schools, which are charities run independently of local authority control, now account for 71% of secondary schools and 26% of primaries – and their number is growing all the time.

Many of these schools are grouped together as multi-academy trusts (MATs). There are currently 980 multi academy trusts of 2+ schools.  If the schools are to fulfil their potential, the trusts need non-executives (known in charity law as trustees) to bring a wide range of skills and experience to help guide strategy, ensure their ambitions can be soundly financed and keep their schools up to the mark delivering for their pupils.

“Academy boards must be ambitious for all children and young people and infused with a passion for education and a commitment to continuous school improvement that enables the best possible outcomes. Governance must be grounded in reality as defined by both high-quality objective data and a full understanding of the views and needs of pupils/students, staff, parents, carers and local communities. It should be driven by inquisitive, independent minds and through conversations focused on the key strategic issues which are conducted with humility, good judgement, resilience and determination.”  Source: Governance Handbook, Department for Education (2017)

Trusteeship is a voluntary, unpaid role for people who have the energy and skills to make a real contribution to shaping the future of our schools.  You do not need to have any specialist knowledge of education. 


Academy Ambassadors is a non-profit programme which recruits senior business leaders and professionals as volunteer non-executive directors onto the boards of multi-academy trusts. If you are interested in applying for the role please send your CV and a short expression of interest detailing which role you are applying for to [email protected]. Please note candidates should live within reasonable travelling distance of the trust and/or have a link with the region. For more information, please call 0207 952 8556 or visit

Key dates

We strongly recommend applying as early as you can to have the best possible chance of being considered as we may change the closing date if we have received sufficient applications. Applicants should be aware of the following key dates in the recruitment process.

Deadline for applications: Friday 17th May 2019