South Pennine Academies

Lancashire and West Yorkshire | Huddersfield | Kirklees
  • CEO/ General Management
  • CFO/Financial
  • Health and Safety
  • Risk
Deadline date: 17th July 2020

South Pennine Academies (SPA) is a rapidly growing trust which seeks to appoint three new non-executive directors to the board. All academies within the trust serve areas of significant disadvantage and some communities have not had regular access to high quality education. Board meetings are held at Dryclough Road, Huddersfield.

About the trust

At present, the trust comprises ten academies and is due to undertake a period of expansion, with another primary set to join the trust before the summer break and potentially others in the next year.  The trust operates with the shared belief that it has the opportunity to change the education system for vulnerable learners and communities and is seeking the support and expertise of business professionals to realise this goal.

SPA operates in two hubs, in Kirklees/Calderdale and Oldham offering education from age 2 to 16, The trust has a resourced provision for visual learners at one of its academies and operates Huddersfield Horizon School Centred Integral Teacher Training (SCITT) where it is training up to 50 teachers a year with a range of partners beyond the trust. The trust has also opened two new free schools in Kirklees - the first was inspected last year and judged ‘good’ be Ofsted, the second is due to be inspected shortly. 

The trust believes in school improvement through a partnership model. This brings drive, expertise and capacity to the school improvement agenda. The trust recognises and encourages each academy’s unique characteristics and ethos, reinforcing individual identities within their respective communities.

SPA serves over 4,600 pupils. It has almost 650 members of staff and a budget of over £26 million.

Plans for the future

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

  1. To expand the trust further, adding capacity where possible;
  2. To further improve standards across all academies within the trust, in order to meet the minimum Ofsted standard of ‘Good’;
  3. To develop centralised systems that take advantage of economies of scale whilst allowing academies to maintain their own individuality and identity.


Trust ethos & values

The trust is committed to providing students with the education they need to become confident, articulate, independent learners and thinkers who are ready to take their place in the demanding world of the 21st century. Through the provision of high quality learning opportunities both in the classroom and outside, the trust demonstrates its determination to create active, healthy and informed citizens of tomorrow. 

Role summary

Number of positions advertised: 3

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 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 seven Nolan Principles of Public Life: 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)
  • CFO/ Finance
  • Health & Safety/Safeguarding
  • Risk
  • Branding/ Marketing
  • HR
  • Real estate/ Property
  • Legal

The ideal candidates will have demonstrable experience of organisational development, driving business efficiency, consolidation and growth. The trust seeks talented individuals who have the ability and the confidence to work strategically, with experience of leadership at senior management or director level. Due to the variety of competencies sought, the trust recognises that not all candidates will possess all skills and seeks to engage with applicants who are able to bring a strong breadth of expertise.

Time commitment

The Trust Board meets four times per year and each of the subcommittees (Finance, Pay & Performance, Standards and Risk & H&S) meet three times a year.  Trustees are invited to join ONE of the subcommittees depending on their skills and interests.  Meetings generally start at 5:30pm and run for up to 3 hours. (During the Corona Virus period, meetings have been held via videoconference and this may continue until regulations are relaxed and safety is assured.  All trustees are ‘linked’ to an academy for closer scrutiny and this may require occasional visits to the trustee’s linked academy.  Induction into the role will be provided by the executives and experienced trustees as well as a pack of material provided by the trust to ensure new trustees are familiar with the trust’s current strengths and issues.  A half-day collaborative visioning exercise was planned prior to the Covid lockdown…it is hoped this will be reinstated when safe within the next year.  Trustees are likely to need to devote around six hours per month for trust business which includes reading papers ahead of meetings.

Location of board meetings and trust website

Board meetings are held at Dryclough Road, Huddersfield, HD4 5JA

Trust website:

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

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 17th July 2020