The Synaptic Trust

South East England and South London | Croydon
  • CEO/ General Management
  • CFO/Financial
  • Chair
  • Corporate Governance
  • Human Resources
  • IT/Technology
  • Non-executive/Trustee
Deadline date: 7th December 2018

The Synaptic Trust supports 1,800 children in Croydon across three primary schools. As the trust’s Ofsted ratings range from Outstanding to Requires Improvement, the trust seeks two non-executive directors with corporate governance experience to help raise education standards. Board meetings are held in Croydon.

About the trust

The Synaptic Trust is currently comprised of three primary academies in Croydon with 1,800 pupils on roll. The trust was formed five years ago when West Thornton Primary and Forest Academy converted into academies and joined together to form the multi-academy trust (MAT). Forest Academy has recently been inspected and is graded as Requiring Improvement however the report was very positive about what the school is doing and the final judgement was very much influenced by historic poor performance. West Thornton has a rating of Outstanding by Ofsted and is also a teacher training school. Two years ago a third school, Woodside Academy, joined the trust with a judgement of Requires Improvement by Ofsted.

All three schools are located in Croydon Local Authority and in areas which pose significant challenges for the leaders and teachers. The Synaptic Trust’s schools have high percentages of children who are disadvantaged and whose first language may not be English - for example, in Forest Academy 43% of the pupils have English as an additional language and 54% are in receipt of free school meals.

West Thornton Primary Academy has expanded to become a five form entry school with just over 800 pupils. Forest Academy is a primary school with about 270 pupils. This school also manages a Children's Centre and works in partnership with Kendor Nursery. The Woodside Academy is a primary school with about 790 pupils and works in partnership with another Children's Centre.

Key Stage 2 results for 2018 were very pleasing with significant improvements achieved in Woodside and Forest academies and in all schools the combined score for reading, writing and maths was well above the national average. These results represented a significant improvement on those achieved in 2017.

Plans for the Future

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

  1. The Synaptic Trust aims to improve children's outcomes across all of its schools so that every child receives an outstanding learning experience. The trust currently has one Outstanding school, and expects all schools to be at least Good and working towards an Ofsted Outstanding judgement.
  2. The trust strives to develop directors’ and governors’ ability to provide effective challenge to the leadership at both trust and academy level. This means recruiting people who are prepared to commit to the trust’s children and schools both in terms of their time and work/life experiences.
  3. In order to develop the central services and meet the needs of their schools, the trust seeks to eliminate underperformance amongst schools by creating an executive team to preside over the whole trust. In particular, the trust will re-focus the Teaching School based in West Thornton Academy so that it meets the needs of the entire trust and create a trust improvement team which will work with all schools to raise achievement further.


Trust Ethos & Values

The Synaptic Trust is a learning community which creates chances for dreamers, idea makers and innovators to connect, thrive and outperform. The trust empowers children to use their skills as divergent thinkers, responsible role models and leaders to carve out their own futures and become extraordinary citizens.

Role Summary
Number of Positions Advertised:


Role – Non-executive director/Trustee

The board of non-executive directors, or trustees, manages the business of the trust while providing an element of leadership for the organisation as a whole. Directors hold to account the executive and senior leadership team, most specifically the chief executive. The board has to be able to deal with problems and related proposals professionally, both in terms of the skills of the directors and the way in which it conducts its business.

Person specification

The trust seeks individuals with an understanding of corporate governance, a passion for education, the ability to think strategically but also creatively and innovatively. The trust is eager to appoint an individual with high-calibre experience willing to assume the role of Chair of the board of trustees in due course and appointees may also be invited to join sub-committees of the board. The following skills and experience would be welcome:

  • Corporate Governance
  • Non-executive/Trustee
  • CEO/General Management
  • Chair

  • CFO/Finance

  • Human Resources

  • IT/Technology

Corporate Governance: the trust is eager to appoint an individual with high-calibre experience willing to assume the role of Chair of the board of trustees in due course. Experience of chairing committees, being able to negotiate with and influence others as well as making difficult decisions would be beneficial.

Business skills: the trust seeks a non-executive director with exceptional business skills to join the board and support the trust in delivering improvement, growth and transformation across the schools. Candidates for this role should have either senior experience in finance, HR, IT or technology.

Appointments are made on skills and capability. However, the trust welcomes applications from female and ethnic minority candidates.

Time Commitment

6 hours a month minimum. Candidates must be prepared to commit their time including some daytime visits to academies.  

Location of Board Meetings and Trust Website

For more information on the trust, please see their website:
Board meetings are held at West Thornton Academy, Rosecourt Road, Croydon, CR0 3BS.

Governance Structure

For information regarding the trust’s governance structure, please see:

Background on academy trusts

Academy schools, which are charities run independently of local authority control, now account for 71% of secondary schools and 26% 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 980 multi academy trusts of 2+ 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 7th December 2018