GEMS Learning Trust

South East England and South London | Twickenham | London
  • CEO/ General Management
  • Corporate Governance
  • Education Leadership
  • Growth Management
  • Non-executive/Trustee
  • Property/Estate management
Deadline date: 26th July 2019

GEMS Learning Trust is seeking one individual who will take on the Chair role in due course and two additional non-executive directors to join its board. Board meetings are held in Twickenham. 

About the trust

The GEMS Learning Trust (GLT or the trust) aspires for its children to flourish and succeed in high-achieving, happy and safe schools. Trust leaders expect outcomes to exceed local and national averages and for pupils to develop as well-rounded and emotionally secure children. The GLT was founded in 2013 by Jodie Croft and Terri de Quincey, both experienced education professionals with a passion for standards and excellence in every aspect of a child’s schooling. It is affiliated to GEMS Education and benefits from the stewardship and educational networks of support that the company provides although it is operationally independent of GEMS Education.

The GLT currently runs two new two-form entry primary academies; one in Twickenham and one in Didcot. Our third primary school is set to open in Kingston upon Thames. Our vision is to grow small primary hubs in 2-3 geographical regions, which can support and challenge GLT as well as local schools.

GEMS Twickenham Primary Academy opened in September 2015 with 52 children and has since grown to 191 across all year groups up to year three. GEMS Didcot Primary Academy, opened in 2016, currently has 276 children from Reception to year four as well as a nursery with 26 full time places.  The gross annual budget of the trust is circa £2.5 million and is estimated to grow by approximately £500,000 per year until both schools reach full capacity.

Both schools are rooted in their local contexts; they cater for all children and have non-selective admissions policies. The table below shows the profile of the children in each school against the local and national pictures.

Clear paths of accountability and robust quality assurance processes are embedded throughout the Trust. The GLT ensures high quality education is consistently provided through structured professional dialogue and termly analysis of progress and action plans with each Headteacher.

Principals undergo rigorous performance management in line with ambitious development targets set by the GLT board. Twickenham Primary academy received an ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted report in June 2018, and GLD and Phonics data in both schools is at or above local and national averages, showing how high expectations have translated into early pupil success. The quotes below from Ofsted define how the GLT vision for the success of each child is made tangible and sustainable:

  • “Leaders and governors ensure that high expectations are shared and that pupils have an equal opportunity to succeed, whatever their background or starting point.
  • “The behaviour of pupils is outstanding. Pupils enjoy lessons and all groups of pupils participate in learning enthusiastically. They develop an exceptional stamina for working hard in all subjects.”
  • “Pupils achiee exceptionally well in reading, writing and mathematics. They make outstanding progress, sustained over time, whatever their starting points. As a result, an above average proportion of pupils in Year 2 are on track to exceed the expected standards.”
  • “Disadvantaged pupils make the same strong progress as others because funding supports their needs effectively.”
  • Pupils who have SEN and/or disabilities make similar progress to others from their starting points”

Plans for the future

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

  1. Entering a growth phase - the trust hasone application for new primary school in Oxfordshire currently awaiting a decision from the Local Authority and Regional Schools Commissioner. If approved, the trust will be opening a new school in 2022.
  2. Ensuring Twickenham Primary Academy continues to offer a high quality educational provision amidst lower birthrates and falling pupil numbers in the area. There are set to be circa 150 surplus places in the local vicinity in the next two years. The trust must ensure trust schools are an attractive option for parents.
  3. Successful opening of the approved school in Kingston once ESFA provide premises, planned for 2022.
  4. Ensuring the board of directors is of sufficient size and expertise to oversee the current and potential schools, ensuring the trust transitions well to a new chair.

The trust plans to keep the board structure the same for up to six schools at the moment before considering a regional split and the formation of two distinct hubs. It continues to develop and monitor the effectiveness of the Local Academy Boards to ensure they govern competently and communicate well with the central board.

Trust ethos & values

The trust is driven to provide a first class education. The trust’s schools focus firmly on the core basics of phonics, reading, expanding vocabulary writing, and mathematics on a daily basis, ensuring they are applied across a rich and balanced curriculum. No child is allowed to slip through the net; it provides every child with every opportunity to achieve their full potential, regardless of their starting point. At the heart of our broad and balanced curriculum is the wish for pupils to fully engage, enjoy and understand their learning experiences; working with the teacher and their classmates to stretch their abilities whilst developing resilience and perseverance.

Role summary
Number of positions advertised: 3

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.

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

Role 1 – Chair

The GLT is looking for a director who would consider chairing the board or training to become chair in due course. The role involves promoting and maintaining high standards of educational achievement, setting a clear vision and strategic direction for each GLT school, holding the principals to account and ensuring oversight of financial performance.

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)
  • Corporate Governance
  • Non-executive/ Trustee
  • Growth Management
Desirable
  • CEO/General Management
  • Experience with education

The trust is looking for someone with an open mind about multi academy trust governance and who is prepared to take advantage of the academy freedoms if best for the organisation. The ideal candidate would be an individual who can provide support to the executive team and schools whilst simultaneously challenging them to exceed expectations for all children's outcomes. A high level of integrity and probity is expected.

Time commitment

3 full board meetings per year and 3 committee meetings per year, plus attendance at the AGM. Being available for telephone conversations with the CEO and responsive with email.

Roles 2 - 3 – Trustee/Non-Executive Director

The trust has a need for board directors and would particularly welcome people with expertise in estates and property and in corporate governance in general.

Strong candidates will have expertise in building project management or in the commissioning of buildings in the public or private sector. Applications from individuals with a background in facilities management, planning or health and safety would also be welcome.

In addition, applications from individuals with experience of governance, ideally in related sectors, for example, health or housing associations, would be welcomed.

The role involves promoting and maintaining high standards of educational achievement, setting a clear vision, ethos and strategic direction for each GLT school, holding the principals to account for the educational performance and ensuring oversight of financial performance. Someone who can absorb reports quickly in order to ask pertinent questions; contributing to a culture of supporting and challenging the executive and schools' teams to be the best they can possibly be.

The strategic expertise required for this role includes:

Essential
  • Estates and Property and/or
  • Governance
Desirable
  • Growth Management
Time commitment

3 full board meetings per year and 3 committee meetings per year. 

Location of committee meetings

Standards Committee meetings are held at GEMS Didcot Primary Academy. 

Operations Committee meetings are held by telephone conferencing.

Location of board meetings and trust website

GEMS Twickenham Primary Academy

www.gemslearningtrust.org

Governance structure

http://www.gemslearningtrust.org/governance/

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. 

Applications

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.

Deadline for applications: 26th July 2019