Thinking Schools Academy Trust

South East England and South London | Chatham
  • Change Management
  • Human Resources
  • Succession Planning
Deadline date: 18th February 2019

Thinking Schools Academy Trust seeks a non-executive director with senior HR experience to join the board and become Chair of Human Resources Committee. Board meetings are held in Chatham, Kent.

About the trust

Thinking Schools Academy Trust (TSAT) is made up of 16 schools across two hubs, one in Portsmouth and one in Kent and Medway. It supports over 8,000 pupils, over 1,100 staff and a budget of £42m.

The Trust’s founding school was The Rochester Grammar School and has grown with a combination of sponsored and convertor Academies. The Trust now includes Grammar Schools; High Schools; Comprehensive Schools; Primary Schools; Infant Schools and Junior Schools. In addition, the Rochester Grammar School is a Teaching School supporting many local schools to raise standards. In 2017, TSAT was the highest performing Trust nationally for progress at Key Stage 4 and has a strong record of accomplishment in turning around challenging schools. Ofsted rates the majority of schools ‘Good’ with two schools ‘Outstanding’ and two schools ‘Requires Improvement’.

Both Portsmouth and Medway are deprived areas and many of the schools have cohorts where the proportion of deprived students is well above the national average. The golden thread that runs through the Trust is the use of metacognition in the classroom and it is the leading Trust in the country in the use of cognition with almost all schools accredited as Thinking Schools by Exeter University. Metacognition is an understanding of thought processes which, once understood, can be applied to enhance the learning of students. TSAT is also one of the leading Trusts in the use of Curriculum based financial planning and its’ Thinking Solutions for Education in house service provider is regularly used by the Education Skills & Funding Agency (ESFA) to support financially failing Trusts.

For more information, please see

Plans for the future

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

  1. Improving progress for students in Portsmouth Junior Schools
  2. Meeting the educational and financial challenges of Goodwin Academy following sponsorship into the Trust in September 2018
  3. Establishing and embedding new Trust Executive leadership structure from September 2019

In the longer term, the trust plans to:

  • Launch the Maritime Free School
  • Establish a single ICT framework
  • Roll out the Thinking Mastery Programme across the Trust
  • Roll out 360 review and personal development plans across all staff
  • Establish at least one hub connected with either Medway or Portsmouth. Potential locations?
  • Submit Free School bids in Medway and Portsmouth

Trust ethos & values

All schools share a common mission, to nurture successful children who are confident and can think and act independently. At the heart of the Trust is the belief that the work that school leaders do must transform the life chances of students.

Trust values are Child First; Aspire; Challenge; Achieve.

The mission statement is to Transform Life Chances by: Thinking about our Thinking; Being our Best; Shaping our Success.

Role summary

Number of positions advertised:


Role 1 – 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.

Person specification

The appointed non-executive director will contribute to the work of the board of directors in improving the life chances of all of the trust’s children and young people. In particular, s/he will apply Human Resources knowledge and skills to hold to account the executive team and ensure the trust human resource strategy is appropriately challenged and supported by the board. The competencies required for this role include:

  • HR
  • Committee Chair
  • Change management
  • Succession Planning

Applicants will have experience in Human Resources at a senior and strategic level. They will have the ability to be pro-active, challenging and have experience of driving improvement.

Time commitment

6 hours /month minimum.

Location of board meetings and trust website

Board meetings are held at Park Crescent, Chatham, Kent, ME4 6NR. For more information, please see

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: Monday 18th February 2019