Enable Trust

South West England | Thornbury | South Gloucestershire
Deadline date: 15th January 2020

Enable Trust was established in 2018 to strengthen advocacy and outcomes for pupils with complex needs. The trust aspires to grow and, in conjunction with cross-sector partners, share specialist expertise to shape national policy and improve the quality of SEN provision regionally. The board seeks two new non-executive director/trustees with expertise in HR and law to help oversee delivery of the vision, ethos and strategic plan. Board meetings are held at New Siblands School, Gillingstool, Thornbury, BS35 2EG.

About the trust

The trust focuses on the education and development of children with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties; complex learning difficulties including autism. Enable Trust was formed from two highly successful special schools: Culverhill (designation complex learning difficulties, or CLD) OFSTED Good (2016) and New Siblands OFSTED Outstanding (2017) (designation severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties, or SLD / PMLD).

The trust is already set to grow having bid successfully to sponsor the opening of Two Bridges Academy in 2020-21. The trust is working closely with South Gloucestershire Council and other local education providers to submit a planning application this autumn.

Enable Trust is committed to having an impact locally and regionally as a centre of expertise in educating pupils with a wide range of complex learning needs, ensuring outstanding outcomes for pupils in partnership with agencies across education, health and social care. The collective expertise of the MAT to support other schools and settings in meeting the needs of pupils with SEND has placed Enable Trust well in their design as a centre of expertise that has outcomes for children at its heart. 

Partnerships with another specialist MAT in the south west region (Special Partnership Trust) and partnership with North Avon Teaching School Alliance (NATSA), as well as strong local relationships with specialist provisions and mainstream schools ensures Enable Trust’s expertise in the field of SEND is able to support a stronger holistic education offer in the region.

Plans for the future

The key challenges for the board over the next 12-24 months are:

  1. Financial sustainability – the trust’s financial forecasting incorporated Two Bridges Academy which won’t open for another 2 years so is operating under tight financial constraints. This has been exacerbated by the Local Authority’s decision to change the funding bandings for high needs provision which will impact negatively on the trust’s long-term financial sustainability. The trust’s CEO is a vocal champion for pupils with complex needs locally and nationally and the board has commissioned a Schools Resource Management Adviser to inform future planning.  
  2. Growth – the trust bid successfully to open a new special Free School for SLD / PMLD due to open in 2020-21 and are bidding to open additional new schools to positively impact more pupils with complex needs plus mitigate the risks and challenges associated with the recruitment and retention of specialist teaching and support staff.
  3. Restructuring back office functions - to develop a sustainable staffing model which will increase efficiency and effectiveness across the trust and scale up appropriately in line with growth over time.

Trust ethos & values

The trust’s shared vision is for all pupils aged 2-19 to benefit from the extensive specialist expertise that is shared across the Trust.  They also aim to create capacity to enable pupils in the wider system to benefit from their expertise as leading SEN practitioners through their outreach service – Enable Trust Holistic Outreach Service (ETHOS).

Role summary

Number of positions advertised:


Roles 1-2 – Trustee/Non-Executive Director

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.

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: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/583733/Competency_framework_for_governance_.pdf

The strategic expertise required for this role includes:

Essential (due to multiple roles, candidates may be accepted who possess one or more of the skills below)
  • Legal / Compliance
  • HR / Restructure / Succession


  • Change/Growth/Risk Management
  • Non-executive/Trustee

Role 1 spec: ideally a partner in a law firm and specialist in Special Educational Needs / Health to support with understanding of the SEN Code of Practice and associated legislation/practice.

Role 2 spec: a HR specialist able to inform organisational growth and development including people/HR strategy.

Time commitment

6 hours /month minimum.

Location of board meetings and trust website


Board meetings are held at New Siblands School, Gillingstool, Thornbury, BS35 2EG.

Governance structure


Background on academy trusts

Academy schools, which are charities run independently of local authority control, now account for 69% of secondary schools and 33% 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 900 multi academy trusts of 3+ 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.

“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 (2019)

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 www.academyambassadors.org.

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.