The Rowan Learning Trust

Lancashire and West Yorkshire | Wigan
  • Corporate Governance
  • Legal
  • Legal/Compliance
Deadline date: 26th October 2020

The Rowan Learning Trust seeks to recruit a non-executive director/trustee with legal skills and/or compliance experience onto their board. The trust currently comprises four academies which provide for children up to the age of 16, including an Alternative Provision Academy. The trust has approval from the Department for Education to take on an additional secondary school in Bury, which has been judged to be inadequate by Ofsted.  Board meetings are normally held in Wigan but occasionally take place in other schools within the Trust.

About the trust

The Rowan Learning Trust was established by the governing body and leadership team of Hawkley Hall High School, following successful school-to-school support over a number of years and across a large number of schools in the Greater Manchester area and further afield. The trust includes Marus Bridge Primary School and many of their children transfer to Hawkley Hall High School for their secondary education.  Kirkby High School in Knowsley also joined the trust after a period of working with the Rowan Learning Trust team.  The trust also runs Three Towers Alternative Provision Academy which operates on two sites in Wigan and serves children of primary and secondary ages that struggle to cope in a mainstream setting.  Many of the children have a range of special needs including social, emotional and behavioral challenges and the staff work with the majority for an intensive period or on a part-time basis to help them reintegrate back into mainstream education. Some pupils with more severe needs are able to stay at the academy for an extended period the team are proud of their successes and the fact the provision has been judged outstanding by ‘Ofsted’.

The trust has been approved (by the DfE) to take-on Prestwich Arts College which was judged as inadequate in May last year.  The Rowan Learning Trust Team are already working with the staff and students and it is hoped the official transfer to the trust will be in spring this year.

The trust was established with a core belief that when schools work together, they are able to accelerate school improvement and deliver even better education and outcomes for all members of the community. The trust currently has around 2,600 students and an income of around £19m (the number of students and income will increase further at the point of Prestwich Arts College joining the trust).

Plans for the future

Key challenges for the trust over the next 12-24 months are:

  1. Managing growth of the organization, including plans for the new special measures school.
  2. Improving student outcomes and maintaining these improvements in the current schools.
  3. Managing the trust and school finances.  (It should be noted that in these times of financial constraint, the trust is operating with a suitable surplus to cushion any unexpected fluctuations in the future.  Nevertheless, the trust will need to consider and operate prudently).

The trust intends to grow further, in time.  The current focus is on integrating Prestwich into the Trust, but it is hoped that further expansion will next be targeted at the primary sector. There is an ambition to grow to around ten academies over the next five years.

Trust ethos & values

The trust’s mission: to work to maximise the potential of all children, students and adults in its schools and to support the schools on their journey to become ‘outstanding’.

URL to full mission statement:

Trust values:

  • Equality of opportunity
  • Fairness
  • Individual growth
  • Kindness
  • Mutual respect

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.

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 and in accordance with DfE requirements, all trustee appointments will 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:

  • Legal/Compliance
  • Corporate Governance
  • Risk
  • Growth Management

The trust seeks an experienced professional with skills in the legal/compliance field.  The ideal candidate will have a legal qualification, will help scrutinize the various aspects of compliance and provide broader understanding on the board of information given by its legal advisers when necessary.

The suitable individual should have significant leadership experience and a proven track-record of strategic planning and/or oversight. They must be able to interpret data in all its forms and will have the ability to question and provide challenge.

Time commitment

The Board meets twice in each term;  This equates to 6 full board meetings per year.  Board meetings are always held on Friday mornings starting at 8 am and runs for up to two hours.  This practice has found to be most effective in meeting the work demands of current trustees. The trust also has an Audit Committee which meets three times a year. These meetings can be moved to other times of the week but occasionally coincide to run concurrently with the trust board meetings.  Overall, trustees are expected to allocate, on average, up to six hours per month which would include reading/preparing for meetings (at a time to suit individuals) and for any routine training and follow-up actions.

Location of board meetings and trust website

Hawkley Hall High School, Carr Lane, Wigan, WN3 5NY

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.


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

Deadline for applications: Friday 24th July 2020

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.