Cuckoo Hall Academy Trust( CHAT)

North West London and South Central England | Edmonton | Enfield | London
  • CFO/Financial
  • Corporate Governance
  • Property/Estate management
  • Risk
Deadline date: 19th July 2019

Cuckoo Hall Academies Trust is a multi-academy trust of 4 Primaries and 1 Secondary school in North London, educating some 2,200 pupils. Based in a challenging part of London, CHAT aims to give young people in the community the best chance of succeeding in future through excellent education. The Trust is organically growing and is currently considering new opportunities based on locally driven needs and now seek one non-executive director with finance expertise. Board meetings are held in Edmonton, London.

About the trust

CHAT was set up to run, manage and develop Cuckoo Hall Primary Academy, a long established primary school in Edmonton (North London), and Woodpecker Hall Primary Academy which opened in September 2011 on a site adjacent to Cuckoo Hall. In a further response to local community demand, the CHAT Board of Trustees decided to open another primary academy: Kingfisher Hall Primary Academy opened in 2012 initially on the Cuckoo Hall site.

Both of the new primary schools are housed in purpose-built new school buildings developed and designed by CHAT and directly financed by the Department for Education. Kingfisher Hall moved in to their brand new building in Enfield Highway in September 2013.

CHAT has been approached by parents and carers many times over the years with the request to open a local secondary school so that their children can continue their excellent primary education in the local area. In July 2012 the government announced that CHAT had been successful in its bid to open Heron Hall, a new secondary academy. Heron Hall opened with Year 7 housed on the Cuckoo Hall/Woodpecker Hall campus in September 2013, but moved in May 2016 to a brand new £40m development, that CHAT has led, on the old Middlesex University site in Ponders End.

In 2014 CHAT were approached by the sponsors of Enfield Heights Primary Academy in Ponders End to take over the school. This approach was supported by the Department for Education. At that time Enfield Heights was in the ‘Requires Improvement’ category. Since then Enfield Heights has shown rapid improvement under the excellent leadership of the CHAT the school was rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted.  All other CHAT schools have been rated Good or Outstanding by Ofsted.

Trust ethos & values

Based in a very challenging part of London, CHAT believes in giving young people in the community the best chance of succeeding in the future through excellent education and an environment that makes learning enjoyable. Their main aims are:

  • Drive up the quality of education provision and standards, to ensure excellent outcomes for all pupils.
  • Share resources, expertise and provision across the family of CHAT schools, ensuring value-for-money academies.
  • Be a self-sustaining and self-improving group of schools, with emphasis on relying on school leaders, teachers, support staff and parents to ensure a good quality of provision for all.
  • Share expertise with as many young people and communities as is possible.

Plans for the Future

After the rapid growth CHAT has been through over the last five years, the trust now plans to consolidate to ensure that they are in a strong position to continue delivering excellent education. The trust will grow organically to 2500 pupils by 2022, once all its schools are full. The trust is also considering new opportunities as they become available through the Education Skills and Funding Agency (ESFA) or locally driven demand.

The key challenges the board will face over the next 12-36 months will be to:

  1. Driving up the quality of education provision and standards, to ensure excellent outcomes for all pupils
  2. Sharing resources, expertise and provision across the family of CHAT schools, ensuring value-for-money academies.
  3. Being a self-sustaining and self-improving group of schools, with emphasis on relying on school leaders, teachers, support staff and parents to ensure a good quality of provision for all.  

The trust aims to deliver the best possible education for all of the children through a consistently high-quality and cost-effective approach; accelerate student attainment and progress for all with outcomes exceeding national averages; build Trust-wide infrastructure and leadership capacity to support at least 3000 students; and make a significant contribution to its communities.

Role summary
Number of positions advertised: 1
Role 1– Trustee/Non-Executive Director: Finance, Risk and Audit

Trustees – or non-executive directors - are both charity trustees and company directors of the academy trust. The core functions of their role are: ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction; holding executive leaders to account for the educational and financial performance of a charitable company funded by the public purse.

The board of trustees manages the business of the academy trust and may exercise all the powers of the trust in compliance with its charitable objects, company and charity law.

Non-executive directors will be responsible for maintaining stability and the management of a dynamic structure. The role also includes contributing to financial planning for sustainability and potential growth, and holding the CEO/CFO to account.

In the interests of safeguarding, all trustee appointments would be subject to an enhanced disclosure and barring service check.

Person specification

Every trustee is expected to abide by the trust’s code of conduct and the seven principles of public life set out by Lord Nolan: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.

The Competency Framework for Governance (DfE) 2017 details the knowledge, skills and behaviours required for effective governance:

The strategic expertise required for this role includes:

  • Finance
  • Risk
  • Corporate Governance
  • Estate Management
  • local community perspective
  • communications

A qualified accountant, candidates should have experience of financial management from a commercial organisation (preferably at a multi-site organisation) alongside audit and risk expertise. An understanding of public finance would be advantageous.

The successful candidate will provide support in the measured expansion of the trust to enable our expertise to have a positive impact on the learning of more children and ensure maximum economies of scale.

Time commitment

4-8 hours a month minimum. The Trust Board meet six times a year in the afternoon.  Meetings are usually two hours.

Location of board meetings and trust website

Board meetings are held at the Cuckoo Hall Academies Trust, Cuckoo Hall Academy, Cuckoo Hall Lane, Edmonton, London N9 8DR.

For more information on the trust, please visit 

Governance structure

For more information, please visit  

Background on academy trusts

Academy schools, which are charities run independently of local authority control, now account for 74% of secondary schools and 31% 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: 4th October 2019