Hadrian Learning Trust

North of England | Hexham
  • Audit
  • CFO/Financial
  • Non-executive/Trustee
Deadline date: 26th January 2018

Hadrian Learning Trust seeks a new non-executive director, with finance skills, to join its board. The trust was formed in September 2016 with two schools: Queen Elizabeth High School (QEHS) and Hexham Middle School (HMS), with a total of about 1750 students on roll. Board meetings are held in the Hexham area.

About the trust

The trust serves the market town of Hexham and its surrounding rural villages. Although much of the area that the trust covers is relatively affluent, there are also significant pockets of deprivation. Around one-third of students at QEHS travel from outside the catchment area.

Ofsted judged both schools to be good at their latest inspections (QEHS November 2015; HMS June 2016). HMS had previously been judged to Require Improvement. Attainment and progress are generally strong but there is a need to improve that of disadvantaged students. QEHS has some of the best outcomes in the North East. In 2017, the Progress 8 score at GCSE was among the top 12% of schools nationally; 71% of A Level entries were graded A*-B.

The trust’s ethos makes clear that it believes in the highest academic standards for all students but also values education in its broadest sense.

In Summer 2017, the trust carried out an initial consultation on a proposal to bring the schools together to form a single 11-18 secondary school. The rationale for this is set out in this Consultation Document. The Board is carefully considering responses from stakeholders before deciding if and how to move forward.

As a Multi Academy Trust, Hadrian Learning Trust is open to other schools who would like to join, where it is in the best interests of all involved. There are no schools currently in the pipeline.

Plans for the Future

Three key challenges for the trust in the next 12 months are:

  1. Improving educational experience and outcomes.

Although the performance of the schools within Hadrian Learning Trust is strong, the trust’s local Three-Tier system does not fit with the vast majority of schools in England in terms of curriculum, assessment and accountability. This issue is intertwined with the financial and capital challenges outlined below.

  1. Becoming financially sustainable

Along with others schools nationally, Hadrian Learning Trust faces the challenge of managing available funding, in the face of rising costs. Benchmarking with similar schools shows that it is typically a low spender in most categories. The challenge will be for the trust to set a balanced budget, while maintaining its offer in terms of outcomes, the curriculum and extra-curricular activities.

  1. Securing Capital Investment

The trust’s buildings and facilities, which include Grade II listed buildings on both sites, are in many respects sub-standard, impacting on students’ educational experience. Although the trust has successfully bid for funding to carry out some essential maintenance, this is not sufficient to deliver a suitable learning environment. The trust is in discussions with both the Education and Skills Funding Agency and Local Authority to explore what a joined-up approach could offer, including the potential benefits arising from any re-organisation.

The Trust needs to navigate a way forward with regard to the challenges outlined above. This will help to create a sustainable basis on which it can build.

Hadrian Learning Trust is also keen to play a part in developing a self-improving system of schools. The trust believes that it has much to share with other schools and also much that it can learn.

A Trustee joining Hadrian Learning Trust will play an important role in helping to shape its future growth strategy. The trust is open-minded about the form this might take but aware that the first questions to answer must be about scale, variance and control.                                                           

Trust ethos & values

“Outstanding eagerness to promote good learning”

(from the Charter granted to the people of Hexham by Queen Elizabeth I, 1599)

These are friendly, welcoming schools built on foundations of mutual respect and care for others. All those within the schools work together to become all they can be.

The schools share a love of learning and believe in the highest academic standards for everyone. They value education in its broadest sense, knowing that the arts, sport and other opportunities help shape us as individuals and as citizens of the wider world.

Hadrian Learning Trust is committed to enabling all of its students to develop their knowledge and understanding, skills and mindset, so that they can take their next steps with confidence. Its aim is that every child will grow into a happy, fulfilled and successful adult.

Role Summary

Number of Positions Advertised:  1

Trustee/Non-Executive Director

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

The competencies required for this role include:
  • CFO/ Finance and/or
  • Qualified Accountant
  • Risk
  • Non-executive/ Trustee
  • Audit Committee Chair
  • Turnaround
Person specification

In addition to the general duties of a Charity Trustee and Company Director, the trustee will use their professional skills and experience to guide trust board decisions and processes around finance and audit issues. This is a strategic role, with operational needs met by in-house staff and external professional advisors.

Time commitment

The Trust Board meets monthly during term time. In addition, the Finance & Audit Committee meets twice a term.


Location of Board Meetings and Trust Website

Queen Elizabeth High School, Whetstone Bridge Road, Hexham NE46 3JB


Governance Structure

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 organisation 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: 26 January 2018.

Interviews:    TBC.