Plymouth CAST

South West England | Plymouth | Devon | Cornwall
  • CFO/Financial
Deadline date: 30th August 2019

Plymouth CAST is a large multi-academy trust comprising 35 schools based in the South West region which strives to deliver outstanding education with Catholic values at its heart. The board seeks one trustee/non-executive director with specialist financial expertise to support the development of the strategy to deliver its recently refreshed vision. Applicants of all faiths and of none are welcomed. This vacancy has arisen due to a Director relocating from the area. Board meetings are held in Ashburton, Devon.

About the trust

The Catholic Diocese of Plymouth formed Plymouth CAST in April 2014 to improve the performance of its schools. The trust’s mission is to be a community of outstanding schools in which its pupils flourish in safe, happy and stimulating environments and leave with the knowledge and skills, personal qualities and aspirations, to make the world a better place, inspired by the Gospel.

Plymouth CAST is a multi-academy trust of 35 Catholic schools across the South West of England comprising 2 single sex secondary schools based in Plymouth, 33 primary schools and a nursery. With schools located across the South West, from Penzance to Bournemouth, and covering seven local authorities, the trust is one of the largest multi-academy trusts (MATs) in the south west region.

The trust currently employs circa 800 staff; has 7,300 pupils on roll and an annual income of > £40m.

Plans for the future

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

  1. Declining pupil numbers – there is a demographic dip in primary aged students plus a common misperception to overcome that only pupils with a catholic faith are eligible to apply to Plymouth CAST schools. The majority of the Trust’s income and staffing structures are based on pupil numbers.
  2. Financial sustainability – the finance committee is actively contributing to the development of the trust’s long-term strategy to deliver its vision whilst managing the increase in staffing costs i.e. higher employer pension contributions and reduced income.
  3. School improvement – the trust is working hard to get all schools to at least a ‘good’ rating by Ofsted.  Currently 4 schools are judged as ‘outstanding’, 16 are ‘good’; 12 are ‘requires improvement’ and 3 are ‘inadequate’. The Trust has recently introduced Clusters within local areas to enable schools and leaders to work more closely together. This is a long-term plan which is in the early stages.

Trust ethos & values

The recently refreshed vision and values is available via the trust’s website.

The trust has identified four ‘drivers’ or areas to focus on relentlessly in order to build collaborative capacity and achieve their aim of providing an outstanding Catholic education for every one of its pupils: learning, leadership, collaboration and systems.

Role summary
Number of positions advertised: 1
Role – 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 7 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. 

Essential (due to multiple roles, candidates may be accepted who possess one or more of the skills below)
  • has operated as a CFO or equivalent
Desirable
  • Audit
  • Compliance
  • Risk
Time commitment

7 hours /month minimum. Six board meetings plus 4 committee meetings per year.

Location of board meetings and trust website

To view further information, please visit http://www.plymouthcast.org.uk. To allow time for travel and maximise time efficiency board meetings are convened on a Friday morning six times per year and often followed by bespoke training events. Board meetings start at 10/10.30am and are held at St Boniface House, Ashburton, TQ13 7JL.

Governance structure

Please visit http://www.plymouthcast.org.uk/web/plymouth_cast_board_of_directors/277427 for further details regarding governance at Plymouth CAST.

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.

“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 (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 30th August 2019