Learn Academies Trust (Learn A-T)

East Midlands and Humber | Leicestershire
  • Audit
  • CFO/Financial
  • Corporate Governance
  • Legal/Compliance
  • Non-executive/Trustee
  • Restructuring
Deadline date: 29th May 2020

Learn Academies Trust is a ten school primary-only multi-academy trust with around 2,300 students on roll. The trust seeks to recruit two non-executive directors, possessing skills and qualifications in finance/accountancy and/or law/compliance. The trust has aspirations to grow in order to maintain long-term viability and the trustees will form a central part of this strategy. Trust board meetings are held at School Lane, Lubenham.

About the trust

Learn-AT was formed from a group of seven primary schools based in and around Market Harborough. The trust now comprises 10 schools which are a combination of Church of England and community primary schools. The trust hosts a teaching school alliance which links the team to other schools outside the trust and the teaching school provides training and development for professionals within the region. This has helped the trust develop a strong focus on professional learning and research.

The trust’s vision is to remain true to its founding core purpose – learning, and its founding core value – fellowship. Those within the trust work together to build a flourishing, hospitable and inclusive organisation, in which Church of England and Community academies work together in the service of local children and families.

Plans for the future

The key challenges for the trust over the next 12-24 months include:

  1. Managing expectations of growth both internally and through attracting other schools into the trust, including within the context of the DfE MAT strategy, so that the trust is sustainable over the long term.
  2. Ensuring that all schools continue on a trajectory of improvement through implementing and embedding a robust school improvement strategy.
  3. Ensuring operational efficiency and consistency to maximise the impact of resources across the trust.

Over the longer term, the trust seeks continued growth for the next 2-5 years – with the possibility of a bid for new school. It also aims to build a strong reputation for professional learning and talent management.

Trust ethos & values

Learning is the core purpose of this trust. A culture underpinned by shared commitment to professional learning, integrity and kindness. Learn-AT prioritises the development of systems, structures and cultures which ensure that both adults and pupils thrive. Flourishing adults are essential to make sure our pupils flourish too.

For more information, visit https://www.learnat.uk/about-learn-at/learn-at-mission

Role summary

Number of positions advertised: 2

Roles 1&2 – Trustee/Non-Executive Director or Member

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 are 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

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)
  • CFO/ Finance
  • Qualified Accountant
  • Non-executive/ Trustee
  • Legal/ Compliance
  • Restructuring
  • Corporate Governance
Desirable
  • Entrepreneur/ Founder
  • Succession Planning
  • Risk
  • Growth Management

Role 1: The trust seeks a senior finance executive that is used to overseeing a total budget in excess of £10m p.a. across multiple sites.  Whilst all trustees are responsible for financial oversight, this particular trustee, as a qualified professional, is likely to bring sharper questioning and insight to challenge the CEO and CFO with regard to the trust’s finances.  In addition to trust board meetings, this trustee will also join the Finance sub-committee which provides a forum to view the monthly management accounts.  Whilst all schools’ budgets are challenging, the trust has managed its finances well and has built a small surplus.  Clearly the trust needs to manage the challenge of spending on the current students whilst holding sufficient reserves to ensure it meets commitments going forward

Role 2: The trust seeks a professional with skills/experience in the fields of law and/or compliance.  The successful candidate may not necessarily be a practicing lawyer but will be able to bring forward an understanding of aspects of law which are relevant to the trust.  This person will have the skills to interpret the advice given by the trusts lawyers, and able to probe and hold to account executives and contractors that provide advice to the trust’s team.  They may have skills in any of the broad legal areas which affect education and could include contracts, property, employment, etc.   Depending on the successful candidate’s skills and interests, they may be invited to join one of the sub-committees (Finance, School Improvement or Pay).

Time commitment

The full trust board meets three times per year (autumn, spring and summer).  All trust board meetings are held on Thursday (early) evenings and normally start at 6:30pm and run for up to two hours.  The finance sub-committee meets 6 times per year (normally once each half term) and meetings tend to be early evening with start times varying between 6 and 6:30 and running for up to two hours.  The School Improvement sub-committee meets five times per year and three of these meetings tend to be tagged BEFORE a full trust board meeting, starting around 4:30pm.

On average, trustees would be expected to devote around 6-7 hours per month to trust business.  This would include reading papers in preparation for meetings and any ad hoc training.

Location of board meetings and trust website

Trust board meetings are held at School Lane, Lubenham, Leicestershire, LE16 9TW

https://www.learn-at.org.uk/about-learn-at.html

Governance structure

https://www.learnat.uk/about-learn-at/documents-and-policies/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 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

Deadline for applications: due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this deadline has been extended to Friday 29th May 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.