The Propeller Academy Trust (TPAT)

North West London and South Central England | Oxfordshire
  • Audit
  • Branding/Marketing
  • CEO/ General Management
  • CFO/Financial
  • Corporate Governance
  • Legal/Compliance
  • Non-executive/Trustee
Deadline date: 29th May 2020

The Propeller Academy Trust is a two-school trust focusing on special education in Oxfordshire. The trust focuses on providing an innovative and developmental academic curriculum which gives students with special educational needs a strong foundation for long-term community cohesion. The trust is the enabler for creating opportunities, working with Headteachers, to deliver to the needs of our students. The trust is recruiting three non-executive directors/trustees to help them with finance, branding and marketing, an educationalist and two members. Board meetings are held in Southern Oxfordshire, OX12 9ET.

About the trust

The Propeller Academy Trust is a special needs trust with two community schools, providing support for moderate learning difficulties to profound and multiple. Approximately 25% of the children are entitled to free school meals, 5% speak English as a second language, all children have special educational needs and hold an Education, Health and Care Plan to be in a special school. Some children have one to two support.

The Trust has recently updated its Articles and governance structure to create a firm foundation for strategic development. Drivers for growth, as well as the core aim of expanding their quality provision to more students, include maintaining and securing their strong financial position for the future and creating greater stability through a larger number of schools.

Increasing the capacity and capability of the Board will enable the trust to identify and engage other Academies with similar aims, execute growth in a controlled and appropriate way and ensure they can promote the specialism and quality of their curriculum more widely. They are also seeking ways to expand their existing schools without jeopardising current standards and to encourage more opportunities to leverage expertise in outreach/in reach and the sponsor school status of one of the schools.

Plans for the future

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

  1. The Trust wishes to grow in size either through merger or converting schools to join who have a like-minded philosophy
  2. Ensuring the current strong financial position is maintained and improved in a challenging and unknown local and national budget regime.
  3. Maintaining the unique approach of each academy whilst ensuring student outcomes are ever improving and Ofsted rates each academy as outstanding.


Trust ethos & values

The trust insists on working in a collaborative style, putting children at the heart of every decision whilst allowing each school to maintain its own identity and ethos, which supports their community.

Role summary

Number of positions advertised: 5

Roles 1-3 – 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:

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)
  • Finance and audit
  • Branding/ Marketing
  • SEND
  • Corporate Governance
  • CEO/General Management
  • Growth Management
  • Qualified Accountant

Role 1: a candidate with business qualifications in finance and/or auditing and demonstrable experience at a senior management level in a large business where they have contributed to strategic planning and development. Though not essential, experience in education, corporate and/or charity governance would be of benefit.

Role 2: a senior educationalist with experience as a leader who has worked in schools. Ideally they will have experience in SEND schools.

Role 3: a trustee that ideally has experience of working in schools with limited funds for marketing – can help with launching multimedia, internal trust identity and external networking.

The most important quality you will bring is a commitment to the success of children with special educational needs and a willingness to make a commitment to the Propeller Trust!

Time commitment

6 hours per month (minimum).

Roles 4-5 – 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. Members should have an impeccable understanding of the role of governance in public life. This may have been gained in a wide range of senior leadership roles. They are likely to have previous experience in a non-executive director or trustee role.

Person specification

There is an expectation from the DfE that Members should have skills in corporate governance, finance, legal, HR and education to enable holding the Trustees to account. The trust seeks an individual with an extensive and demonstrable background in a senior management position, with strategic vision and knowledge of the role of a non-executive director.

The competencies required for this role include:

Essential (due to multiple roles, candidates may be accepted who possess one or more of the skills below)
  • Non-executive/ Trustee
  • Corporate Governance
  • Legal
  • CEO/General Management
  • HR
Time commitment

Members only meet once a year. It is anticipated that a time commitment of 6 hours a year will suffice.

Location of board meetings and trust website 
Board meetings are held in Southern Oxfordshire, OX12 9ET.

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.