The Pioneer Academy

South East England and South London | Chislehurst
  • Branding/Marketing
  • CFO/Financial
  • Legal/Compliance
Deadline date: 16th January 2019

The Pioneer Academy supports eight primary schools in the South East of London and Kent. It seeks three non-executive directors with financial, legal and marketing expertise as it enters a period of growth and consolidation. Diversity on the board is of importance to the Trust and applications from all sections of the community will be welcomed. Board meetings are held in Chislehurst.

About the trust

The Pioneer Academy Multi Academy Trust (MAT) currently has eight primary schools in Croydon, Bexley, Bromley and Edenbridge and specialises in bring on board primary schools that are in difficulty. These schools are often located in areas of high deprivation. The Pioneer Academy operates solely in the primary school sector and has grown steadily since its conception in 2012. In 2017/18 the Trust grew in SE London and Kent by two schools that had recently been put into the Special Measures category by Ofsted. The Trust has a pupil population of some 3,400 children and around 470 staff with a circa £15 million turnover that is expected to rise to £20 million over the next two years.

During his recent visit, Sir David Carter (the former National School Commissioner) congratulated Pioneer on being one of the top three primary academy trusts in the country. The Ofsted ratings of the eight schools are: two are rated as Outstanding, two are rated Good, a further two are included in the Requires Improvement category and our recent additions came to us in Special Measures.

The Trust’s leaders passionately believe that supporting schools in difficulty is morally right: one of the Pioneer strategic objectives is to improve the life chances of all children, particularly those from the most deprived backgrounds. The Trust promotes and achieves excellence by focusing on all aspects of school life. This vision is externally validated on a regular basis through positive improvements identified by Ofsted inspections and securing year on year progress in national tests that match or surpass national data. These outcomes can only be achieved by delivering consistently good and outstanding teaching. The positive learning environment within the Trust actively encourages creativity and innovation that is underpinned by good standards of pupil behaviour and attendance. The Trust has a number of non-negotiables that include equality of treatment and celebrating diversity along with protecting all through rigorous high standards for safeguarding, health and safety and welfare.

Each of schools in the Pioneer family has access to a central team including the CEO, Director of Education, Heads of Business Support, Pupil Assessment, Curriculum, IT and Support Staff plus the support of Outstanding Teacher practitioners.

The Trust is in regular contact with schools that are exploring opportunities to join a MAT and this includes the possibility of creating hubs in Kent and in the Manchester areas. 

Plans for the future

The main challenges for The Pioneer Academy over the next 12-24 months are:

  1. Growth: The Trust experiences great difficulty in attracting new schools to join the MAT from the South East and South London (SESL) Region. In part this is due to the SESL Region being heavily populated with existing academies and a large number of successful MATs.
  2. Governance: securing and retaining effective Trustees to maintain the very highest standards of governance is an area of great importance for the Trust Board. Vacancies must be filled in early 2019.
  3. Marketing: Engaging with parents and communities has proved difficult in most catchment areas of the schools. In the face of stiff competition, the Trust needs to optimise the marketing of Pioneer schools to ensure parents see them as the preferred choice for educating their children. 

In the longer term, The Pioneer Academy needs to expand its pupil base by one third so its central teams can maintain quality levels of service. The Trust's business plan includes a growth strategy that aims to have in place sufficient capacity to take on a further two or three schools in the next coming academic year (2019/2020).

Trust ethos & values

The Pioneer Academy promotes and achieves excellence by providing the very best care and guidance for every child. Outstanding teaching along with consistent standards of behaviour and attendance is essential in encouraging creativity and innovation. Diversity is celebrated and protecting all through rigorous safeguarding, health and safety and welfare is paramount.

Role summary

Number of positions advertised:

3

Roles 1-3 – Trustee/Non-Executive Director

Trustees – or non-executive directors - are both charity trustees and company directors of the academy trust; the role is to hold to account the executive and senior leadership team. The board of trustees manages the business of the academy trust and may exercise all the powers of the trust. The trustees ensure compliance with the trust’s charitable objects and with company and charity law.

A recent skills audit identified three areas where new trustees with current professional experience are required to future proof governance:

  • CFO/Finance: the successful individual will be able to provide independent financial advice to a Board that oversees a trust with a circa £15 million turnover that is expected to rise to £20 million over the next two years. The appointed trustee will join the Finance and Estates Sub-committee that reports to the main board. 
  • Legal/Compliance: the successful individual will need to provide legal advice/strategic legal expertise to a Trust Board that oversees a small trust that intends to grow by up to three schools in the next 18 months. As a Trustee, they will contribute to the development of a deeper understanding by colleagues of their responsibilities under statute, regulations and ESFA funding agreement.
  • Branding/Marketing: the successful individual will provide strategic marketing advice and input and contribute to the development of a communication strategy using all media streams to improve engagement with stakeholders.
Person specification

The competencies required for this role include:

Essential (either)
  • CFO/ Finance
  • Legal/Compliance
  • Branding/Marketing
Desirable
  • Corporate Governance
  • Change Management
  • Growth Management
  • Risk
  • Restructuring
  • IT/Technology

CFO/Finance: Accountancy or financial qualification underpinned by experience in a financial role and an understanding of business practices and principles. Provide insightful analysis and advice to the Board based on familiarisation with the Trust's financial affairs and strategic aims. Commitment to the Trust's strong educational moral purpose.

Legal/Compliance: A law qualification underpinned by several years of experience in a law firm or in a commercial or not for profit business. Provide insightful analysis and advice to the Board based on familiarity with the Trust's activities and strategic aims. Commitment to the Trust's strong educational moral purpose.

Branding/Marketing: A marketing or business administration qualification underpinned by extensive experience in marketing, advertising and brand management. Advise the Board on developing a marketing strategy to achieve growth and improve reputational exposure in line with the Trust's activities and strategic objectives. Commitment to the Trust's strong educational moral purpose.

Time commitment

6 hours per month minimum. 7 board meetings per year plus 2-3 subcommittee meetings each year.

Location of board meetings and trust website

Board meetings are held at Red Hill Primary School, Red Hill, Chislehurst, Kent, BR7 6DA 

Please see https://thepioneeracademy.co.uk for more information   

Governance structure

Please see https://thepioneeracademy.co.uk/bexley/primary/pioneeracademy/site/pages/aboutus/governance     

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. 

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: Wednesday 16th January 2019