- Corporate Governance
- Property/Estate management
Forward Education Trust currently comprises three schools in Birmingham and surrounding areas, with a further two schools set to join the trust in the coming years. The board has recently updated its vision and continues to have aspirations to expand the trust to meet this. The trust board is therefore exploring opportunities for growth within this very specialist area of education. To achieve its aims, FET seeks two trustees - one with demonstrable skills in financial oversight and experience of growing a small- or medium-sized non-profit organisation and a second possessing experience in estates, preferably with a prior knowledge of Free Schools and/or education systems, in order to achieve the trust vision. Meetings are usually at either the Brays Tile Cross or Hallmoor schools, both in the Birmingham area.
About the trust
Forward Education Trust is currently a three school multi-academy trust consisting of two primary day special schools - Brays School and The Bridge School - and a 4-18 special school, Hallmoor School. The trust has received approval to open a special secondary free school in Sandwell and is relocating an additional school, which it is sponsoring, and which will join the trust shortly in a new build site in Birmingham. Other schools may additionally join the trust over the short- to medium-term.
The trust provides specialist education to pupils with wide ranging complex special educational needs who cannot receive the education and additional ‘wrap around’ support they need in mainstream settings. Pupil needs include autism, complex medical, including life limiting, conditions, profound and multiple learning difficulties, social emotional mental health, complex physical, severe learning difficulties, sensory difficulties and moderate learning difficulties.
The trust places emphasis on the collaboration of its schools, aiming to operate and perform as a united team. Ensuring consistency across educational approaches within the trust allows it to support all of its schools and maintain a focus on the challenges ahead.
The trust also provides improvement support beyond its schools; Forward Education Services consists of advisers with substantial experience and qualifications, such as serving Ofsted inspectors and National Leaders of Education. Through school improvement contracts the trust supports non-trust schools locally, regionally and nationally to improve educational performance. The trust works with Local Authorities on quality assurance projects for special provision and alternative education. The trust can be contracted to offer other services, including school and pupil premium reviews.
Plans for the future
The key challenges for the board over the next 12-24 months are:
- To secure business functions through successful recruitment of key personnel to the trust;
- To secure the appointment and development of a strong senior team with clear succession planning for trust leadership and for the Board;
- To secure successful expansion/integration of other schools into the trust;
- To ensure financial stability to provide a solid long-term foundation for anticipated growth and expansion.
Over the longer term, the trust seeks to improve upon the quality of education offered to vulnerable children with special education needs (SEN) across a wider geographic area.
Two schools that are not currently part of the trust have ‘direct academy orders’ to transfer to FET and as such will be accommodated within new buildings in due course.
In addition, FET anticipates expanding its consultancy service support to other schools working in the special educational needs sector over the coming years.
Trust ethos & values
The trust board has recently updated its overall vision:
‘FET is the provider of choice for the excellent education of children with high levels of special educational needs in bespoke provision.’
The trust works to educate, nurture and empower through dynamic and robust leadership and governance. The trust ethos is focused on ‘moving forward together’, striving for opportunities to improve outcomes and providing stability and success for all. Improving both the personal and academic achievements of children drives the trust’s work.
Further information on ethos and values can be found on the trust website: http://www.fet.ac/trust-information/about-us/our-vision/
Number of positions advertised:
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.
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 possessing one or more of the below criteria may be considered)
Estates/ Property Management
Knowledge of education funding processes
Knowledge of Free School applications process
The ideal candidate/s will have demonstrable experience with a proven track record in financial oversight and business management; ideally one candidate will possess expertise in property/facilities management, in particular in relation to Free School proposals. An understanding of the Department for Education (DfE) and/or the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is highly desirable, but not essential.
The trust seeks individuals who can commit to its values, principles and its academies possess short and long-term strategic vision and understand the difference between the Executive’s role in operation and delivery compared to the trust board’s role in setting the strategy and providing good governance.
A clear understanding and acceptance of the legal duties, responsibilities and liabilities of trusteeship is vital to anyone considering this role, as well as the understanding that a contribution to the trust direction and strategy, and an ability to work effectively as a member of a team, are core aspects of the role.
As the trust is on a growth trajectory, experience of managing and overseeing the complexities and challenges of growth in a medium-sized non-profit or charity is highly desirable. Experience in managing risk, especially in relation to growth, is likewise highly desirable.
Up to six hours per month on average
Location of board meetings and trust website
Board meetings are held at various location within the Birmingham area.
Trust website: http://www.fet.ac
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 832 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.
“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 (2019)
Membership or 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.
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.
Closing date for applications: Friday, 18th September, 2020