Prosper Learning Trust

North of England | Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Audit
  • CFO/Financial
Deadline date: 28th June 2019

Prosper Learning Trust, which specialises in meeting the needs of vulnerable learners who cannot access mainstream education, seeks one new board member, possessing a strong track record in the fields of finance, to help it develop over a period of change and expansion. Board meetings are held at Mary Astell Academy, Newcastle upon Tyne.

About the trust

Prosper Learning Trust aims to meet the needs of vulnerable learners who cannot access mainstream education. Prosper Learning Trust is a sponsor, approved by the Department for Education (DfE).

The trust current comprises Newcastle Bridges School (NBS), a multi-site Hospital Special School consisting of a number of provisions, each meeting a specific and distinct need. These include:

Benfield - a secondary-aged provision for approximately 80 students with long standing attendance problems at mainstream schools due to anxiety/vulnerability. There is also a small primary provision on the site of Mary Astell Academy.

Community Teaching - provides education to primary and secondary aged children who are medically unfit to attend mainstream schools;

The Great North Children’s Hospital provision is a regional hospital for many specialised services within paediatrics; it also serves the international community as a centre of excellence.

Alnwood is a medium secure inpatient assessment and treatment provision for young people aged between 12 and 18 years with complex mental health needs, including those with a learning disability.

Ferndene is an inpatient assessment and treatment provision for 40 young people with complex health, behavioural and emotional needs including those with a learning disability.

Complex Neurodevelopmental Disorder Service (CNDS) provision is a specialist tertiary service providing second opinions about children and young people who may have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other complex mental health neurodevelopmental problems.

In addition to the Newcastle Bridges School site, Prosper also includes:

Mary Astell Academy (Pupil Referral Unit), which serves the needs of excluded pupil within Newcastle. It has recently been sponsored by Prosper Learning Trust.

Sunderland Free Special School (anticipated opening 2020) - in partnership with Sunderland City Council, Prosper Learning Trust will be opening a purpose built specialist school for students with autism.

A fourth school, for pupils with autism, is scheduled to join the trust in 2019.

Plans for the Future

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

  1. School Improvement – to secure a ‘Good’ judgement from Ofsted for Mary Astell Academy;
  2. Growth - to expand the trust in line with the expected growth model; this will see the anticipated establishment of a multi-academy trust with six academies within two years;
  3. Vision – to manage the planned growth through a clear vision for managed expansion and maintaining standards.


Trust Ethos & Values

The ethos of Prosper is fully inclusive, focused on treating every pupil as an individual with personalised learning programmes designed to meet their learning, personal, social and emotional needs, while acknowledging and recognising the impact of their medical and/or mental health condition and linked behaviours on their ability to learn. The trust is seeking to build on this ethos across all of its schools.

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 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.

Non-executive directors will be responsible for maintaining stability during a period of rapid growth and the management of a dynamic structure. The role also includes contributing to financial planning for sustainability and growth, and holding the CEO/CFO to account.

The competencies required for this role include:

  • CFO/ Finance

  • Audit


  • Risk
  • Succession Planning
  • Growth Management


Person Specification

The ideal candidate will be an experienced and senior leader with a demonstrable background in finance - specifically having held the role of CFO and with prior experience of operating in a medium or large not-for-profit / charitable organisation. With a preference for skills and experience in succession planning, managing business growth and development of financial strategy while working at board level, suitable candidates may have held positions in a non-profit making, commercial, retail or industry setting, demonstrating evidence of growing a business, chain of businesses or franchises, as well as experience of head office or organisational development, including driving business efficiency in central services.

Awareness of, and willingness to adhere to, the Nolan Principles of Public Life are essential to this role.

Time Commitment

6 hours /month minimum.

Location of Board Meetings and Trust Website

Trust board meetings are held at Mary Astell Academy, Linhope Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE5 2LW

Trust website -


Background on Academy Trusts


Academy schools, which are charities run independently of local authority control, now account for 73% of secondary schools and 29% 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 760 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 (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. 


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

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, 28th June, 2019