Pioneer Learning Trust

North West London and South Central England | Luton
  • Audit
  • Branding/Marketing
  • CFO/Financial
  • Corporate Governance
  • Human Resources
  • Restructuring
Deadline date: 15th November 2019

Pioneer Learning Trust seeks two non-executive directors with experience in HR, branding and growth management and two additional members to support its future plans, with experience in finance/audit members to join its board.  With a culture of school improvement through collaborative partnership approaches, the trust is keen to bring new schools on board to grow the strength of both the current and joining schools.  The trust plans to grow to five schools in the next 12 months and board meetings are held in Luton.

About the trust

Pioneer Learning Trust is a three-school trust composed of Southfield Primary School which converted to become an academy on 1st January 2019 joining the Pioneer Learning Trust alongside Whitefield Primary Academy and Chantry Primary Academy. The schools provide a high quality education for a diverse cohort of children of which 34% receive Pupil Premium funding, 24% have Free School Meals, 20% have Special Educational Needs and 42% speak English as a second language.

The trust provides education for more than 1500 pupils, employs 300 staff and has an income of around £9m.

Plans for the future

The key challenges for the board over the next 12-24 months are:

  1. Standards - In 'Pursuing Excellence and Equity' the trust is ambitious for all of its pupils to achieve the best possible outcomes.
  2. Growth - The trust intends to grow to a five-school trust with two further schools converting to join the MAT in 2020, therefore it is essential that the trust is marketed and they build the brand.
  3. Financial Sustainability - In a climate of increasing staffing costs and austere school budgets, strategic financial planning is an essential priority area.

The trust has a further growth plan to expand beyond five schools in 2021, whilst ensuring high educational standards through excellent provision.

Trust ethos & values

The Pioneer Learning Trust (PLT) was formed in order to formalise the collaboration and partnership work between schools within its shared values: Aspiration, Respect, Unity, Integrity, Independence, Quality and Enjoyment. Schools retain their individual character with shared commitment to high standards and ambition for all pupils.

Role summary

Number of positions advertised:

4

Roles 1-2 – 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.

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:

Essential (due to multiple roles, candidates may be accepted who possess one or more of the skills below)
  • Branding/ Marketing OR
  • HR and Restructuring
Desirable
  • Chair
  • Entrepreneur/ Founder
  • Growth Management
  • Legal/ Compliance
  • Change Management

Role 1 spec: As a growing organisation, the trust board seeks to recruit a professional with expertise and experience in public relations, branding and/or marketing; or from an entrepreneurial business background. The successfully appointed non-executive director will support the board in planning for growth and change.

Role 2 spec: As employers of 300+ personnel, the trust is seeking a professional from the HR sector, with expertise in HR strategy and/or HR law. The successfully appointed non-executive director will support the board in HR strategy and procedures such as restructure, succession planning and disciplinary matters.

Time commitment

4 hours per month (minimum).

Roles 3-4 – Member

A member is able to alter the trust’s Articles of Association and appoint (or remove) trustees/directors where necessary. They provide independent oversight to the work of the board of trustees in order to ensure suitable accountability for its decision-making and strategy.

Person specification

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)
  • Substantial experience in a professional finance role (e.g. CFO/Finance, audit, accountancy) OR
  • Corporate Governance
Desirable
  • Audit
  • Qualified Accountant
  • CFO/ Finance
  • Corporate Governance
  • Growth Management
  • Non-executive/Trustee
  • CEO/ General Management

The trust is seeking two individuals with significant experience in corporate governance or finance/audit bringing knowledge and expertise in strategic oversight to ensure there is a high degree of accountability on the trust board. The successful applicants will be experienced and qualified accountants with expertise in financial compliance, including audit. Previous experience in a non-executive director role is essential in order to provide suitable knowledge and insight to the role.

Time commitment

2 hours per month (minimum).

Location of board meetings and trust website

Board meetings are held at Pioneer Learning Trust Business Hub, Chantry Primary Academy, Tomlinson Avenue, Luton, LU4 0QP.

(website under development, previously Chantry Primary Academy Trust – www.chantryprimaryacademy.com)

Governance structure

Please see the trust's governance structure here.

Background on academy trusts

Academy schools, which are charities run independently of local authority control, now account for 69% of secondary schools and 33% 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 900 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

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 15th November 2019