Orchard Community Trust

West Midlands | Stoke-on-Trent
Deadline date: 19th June 2020

The seven-school Orchard Community Trust, which serves areas of significant deprivation in Stoke-on-Trent, comprises five primary schools and two all-age schools catering to pupils with a wide range of Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND). The trust seeks to recruit one trustee/ non-executive director with prior experience either in schools finance or senior experience in public sector finance, ideally with knowledge of working in diverse communities. Board meetings are held at Watermill School, Turnhurst Road, Stoke-on-Trent, or by conference call.

About the trust

A multi-academy trust (MAT) comprising seven schools in Stoke-on-Trent, Orchard Community Trust is situated in an area of high deprivation, with a large percentage of its children in receipt of Free School Meals (FSM).

The trust includes five primary schools, of which two are predominantly white British low income areas and three are predominantly BAME in demographic make-up, with high levels of pupils with English as an Additional Language (EAL). Additionally, there are significant numbers of SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) pupils.

The trust additional has two all-age special schools with wide range of SEND, including Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD) and one associate special school with a focus on SEMH (social, emotional and mental health). The trust has a budget of approximately £15mn/pa, c.2,400 pupils on roll and 450 staff.

Plans for the future

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

  1. Full conversion to academy status - completing the conversion of the final two of the trust’s seven schools to academy status and resolving, with the Local Authority, the funding of the one associate member schools to enable its conversion;
  2. Safeguarding - safeguarding of pupils in the context of a Local Authority in Special Measures, through ensuring high standards of safeguarding within the schools of the trust, and working with other agencies to challenge poor practice and lack of provision at Local Authority level;
  3. Educational standards - maintaining and improving standards of teaching and learning within tight budgetary constraints;
  4. Covid-19 - dealing with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and its legacy.

Over the longer term, the trust aspires to identify suitable additional member schools to ensure the long-term viability and sustainability of the trust.

Trust ethos & values

The Orchard Community Trust is committed to improving the life chances of all children. Its vision and mission is to have fully inclusive schools, that fully embrace all stakeholders and which celebrate individuality and success by offering a high-quality education and range of opportunities, where everyone makes excellent progress.

URL to full mission statement http://www.orchardct.org.uk/about-us/our-trust-and-our-vision

Role summary

Number of positions advertised:
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, 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

The strategic expertise required for this role includes:

  • CFO/ Finance
  • Risk
  • Non-executive/ Trustee
  • Corporate Governance
  • Stakeholder management
  • CEO/ General Management

The successful applicant is expected to contribute to trust-wide board strategy, culture and scrutiny and to take on a sub-committee role within the audit & resources sub-committee, with particular focus on financial risks. The candidate will also act as a trustee link with approximately two of the trust’s members schools.

In terms of skills requirements, the trust seeks an individual with experience at senior level working in school finance or public sector finance.

Time commitment

Two hours /month minimum (meeting time) plus additional time for preparation, school visits and subcommittee attendance.

Location of board meetings and trust website

Board meetings are held at Watermill School, Turnhurst Road, Stoke-on-Trent, ST6 6JX or by conference call.


Governance structure



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.


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: Friday, June 19th, 2020