Interaction and Communication Academy Trust

Lancashire and West Yorkshire | Kirklees
  • CFO/Financial
  • Corporate Governance
  • Growth Management
  • Legal
  • Legal/Compliance
  • Non-executive/Trustee
  • Procurement
  • Risk
Deadline date: 7th August 2020

Interaction and Communication Academy Trust seeks to recruit up to three new non-executive directors and one new member to the board. The ICAT specialises in meeting the educational needs of children and young people aged 3-19 with a range of learning difficulties. Whilst the trust is based at Castle Hill School in Huddersfield, the other schools are at High Park School in Bradford and Milton School in Rotherham. Board meetings are held in Huddersfield.

About the trust

The trust makes up a family of schools which are all judged ‘good or outstanding by Ofsted, recognizing the high-quality work with children and young people with a wide range of challenges.  Some of the children in the trust have highly complex needs ranging from physical disabilities through to autism and behavioral challenges. The team are skilled in blending the best possible educational and therapeutic practice. Their team approach ensures they work closely with families, carers and a wide multi-professional team to identify and meet all the needs of all the young people.

ICAT constantly seeks to improve the life chances for the 350 children across the three academies in the trust.  It also values the skills of the 300+ team of staff and the trust manages an overall budget in the region of £9m.

Plans for the future

The trust is about to enter a period of change as the current, highly successful, CEO steps down from ICAT this summer and will shortly manage the handover to the new CEO who currently leads one of the schools.  The trust is taking the opportunity to re-focus its vision and business plan and is preparing for a ‘strategy day’ to involve the trust’s leaders in planning for the future including possible growth whilst maintaining the best possible educational, social and health outcomes for all pupils.  It is hoped that the new trustees and members will contribute to the thinking and planning.

Three key challenges for the trust over the next 12-24 months are:

  1. Refine and refocus the trust’s strategy for the future.
  2. Develop further capacity at all levels to increase the impact on children.
  3. Review governance at all levels within the trust.

 

Trust ethos & values

Preparing for the brightest future, the trust provides unparalleled dedication and commitment to students and their variety of needs, passions and dreams.

It has developed a multi-academy trust to share ideas, strengths and expertise to provide the best possible learning opportunities for all pupils.

The trust’s aims:

  • provide an atmosphere where all young people achieve to their full potential
  • respect, trust and value ourselves and each other
  • hear every voice
  • promote a climate of high expectation in which the achievements and successes are celebrated
  • ensure pupils have a voice in all aspects of school life
  • prepare pupils for adulthood in order for them to become caring, confident and responsible citizens in the community

 URL to full mission statement: https://www.icat.org.uk/vision-and-aims

Role summary

Number of positions advertised: up to 4
Roles 1- 3 – 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.

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 and in accordance with DfE requirements, all trustee appointments will be subject to an enhanced disclosure and barring service check.

Person specification

Every trustee is expected to abide by 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
  • Risk
  • Growth
  • Finance/Procurement
Desirable skills include
  • Corporate Governance
  • Entrepreneur/Founder
  • Non-executive/Trustee experience
  • HR

The board of directors are jointly responsible for the overall governance and strategic direction of the trust.

Successful candidates are likely to have a proven track record in their professional field.  Individuals are sought who have a strong empathy with the trust’s mission. Experience, skills, expertise or an interest in those with disabilities or special educational needs is not essential but would be an added advantage.

Time commitment

The trust board generally meets four times per year and meetings are usually held on Tuesdays or Wednesdays starting at 6pm and last for up to 2 hours.  The trust has been operating two subcommittees in addition to Local Governing Boards at each of the three schools. The Resources Audit & Risk Committee meets up to 5 times per year; part of their remit is to oversee the strategic issues relating to the trust’s finances. The Academic & Safeguarding Committee has met once each term: whilst this committee provides valuable oversight its terms of reference and remit may be subject to change as part of the governance review.  Trustees are invited to join one of the sub-committees depending on skills and interests. 

The trust has recently introduced a programme for trustees to link with ONE school which they would be expected to visit once per year to gain a better understanding of how the trust’s policies work in practice and to allow the individual schools to interact with Board trustees.  These visits are not intended to delve into details but allow school leaders to share some of their work with a trustee.

The trust has developed an Induction Checklist for new trustees to bring them up-to-speed with trust matters and, initially, new trustees may need to devote some time to support their understanding of the trust’s work.  From next year the Board will schedule training sessions for half-an-hour prior to the start of a meeting to cover statutory requirements or update trustees on relevant matters. 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the trust board has operated effectively using video-call technology.  Whilst the trust are looking forward to resuming in-person face-to-face meetings it is likely that they will operate a period with the continued use of technology or a hybrid approach where some may ‘dial-in’ when others attend in-person.  Overall trustees will be expected to devote around 6 hours per month (on average).  This should include reading papers ahead of meetings as well as any training or visits as well as meetings. 

Role 4 – Member

The role of a Member is to provide independent oversight to the work of the board of trustees in order to ensure suitable accountability for its decision-making and strategy.  A member is akin to a shareholder of the company (but clearly there is no share value).  Members are able to alter the trust’s Articles of Association and appoint (or remove) trustees/directors where necessary. Members generally oversee the work of the trustees and the demands are much lighter. 

Person specification

The competencies required for this role include:

Essential
  • Non-executive/ Trustee
  • Corporate Governance
Desirable skills include
  • HR
  • Legal/Compliance
  • Entrepreneur/Founder
  • Risk

Successful candidates are likely to have experience of corporate governance from other settings.  Generic business skills are likely to be needed with experience of working strategically and providing oversight including holding others to account.  They will join an established team of professionals who already act as members.

Time commitment

Legally, members need only attend the Annual General Meeting which lasts up to 2 hours.  However, in order to provide suitable oversight, members may be invited to briefing sessions or informal meetings throughout the year to hear updates of the trust’s activities.  At strategic points in the year, members are sent summary reports of the trust’s work and progress and they are also invited to occasional training sessions (along with trustees) to keep them updated.  During the recent pandemic, members have been invited to meetings using video technology to keep them updated and allow them to oversee the trust’s decision making first-hand.  Some of the briefings going forward may continue to use this technology if appropriate.   Overall Members may need to devote up to 2 hours per month (on average) for trust matters.

Location of board meetings and trust website

ICAT c/o Castle Hill School, Newsome Road South, Huddersfield, HD4 6JL

https://www.icat.org.uk/

Governance structure

https://www.icat.org.uk/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 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.

“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.

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 'register your interest' and send your CV and a short expression of interest detailing which role you are applying for. 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.

Key dates

Deadline for applications: Friday 7th August 2020

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.