Frequently asked questions

Non-executive directors
  1. How do I apply to become a non-executive director?
  2. Can I apply for a trust role in a different region to that in which I live?
  3. Is a role deadline final?
  4. Will I receive payment for the role?
  5. What do I need to prepare for a phone call with an Academy Ambassadors’ Regional Adviser?
  6. What is the average time commitment for the role?
  7. What is the length of commitment for the role?
  8. Is it possible to have a face to face meeting with a Regional Adviser?
  9. Who are the Regional Schools Commissioners?
  10. Can I claim travel expenses?
  11. Who determines the outcome of my application?
  12. What happens if my application is not successful?
  13. What are the liabilities for a non-executive director?
  14. Vetting and Reference Procedure
 
Trusts
  1. Who do Academy Ambassadors work with?
  2. How much does the Academy Ambassadors service cost?
  3. What is the process of recruiting a non-executive director?
  4. How does Academy Ambassadors find candidates?
  5. What happens during a phone call with an Academy Ambassadors’ Regional Adviser?
  6. The Chair of my trust is not available, can I take the call instead?
  7. What are the responsibilities of the trust during the recruitment process?
  8. What if Academy Ambassadors is unable to find a suitable candidate for my trust role?
  9. How long does it take to recruit a trustee?
  10. Does Academy Ambassadors recruit school governors?
  11. Can Academy Ambassadors provide a skills audit?
     

Non-executive directors

 

How do I apply to become a non-executive director?

If you are interested in becoming a non-executive director role on an academy trust board, you can apply to one of our current board opportunities. Alternatively, you can request to join our pool of candidates, find out more here.

Can I apply for a trust role in a different region to that in which I live?

Academy Ambassadors recommend candidates live within reasonable travelling distance of the trust role they have applied to and/or have a link with the region e.g. it is close to their place of work.  Trusts prefer candidates based locally to the trust and do not always provide travel expenses.

Is a role deadline final?

Role deadlines are specific to each opportunity. Recruitment may close early if we receive a sufficient number of applications. We therefore strongly recommend applying as early as you can to have the best possible chance of being considered.

Will I receive payment for the role?

No. All positions recruited through Academy Ambassadors are pro bono and therefore not remunerated.

What do I need to prepare for a phone call with an Academy Ambassadors’ Regional Adviser?

An initial phone call with one of our Regional Advisers should last around 30 minutes. During the call, the Regional Adviser will discuss the candidates’ CV, skills and motivation for becoming a non-executive director and eligibility. This is also an opportunity for candidates to learn more about becoming a non-executive director of an academy trust and consider current board roles.

In most cases, the Regional Adviser will call the candidate. However, this can be altered dependent on circumstances.

Following the phone call, the Regional Adviser might ask candidates to produce an expression of interest if one is required and has not been supplied previously.

What is the average time commitment for the role?

Non-executive directors are expected to commit around six to eight hours a month, typically comprising one meeting per term plus preparatory work. Larger chair roles may require closer to two days per month. Some non-executive directors choose to get more involved by chairing a committee or local governing body at an individual school. All new non-executives should expect to invest additional time in induction in the first three months.

Members are akin to the shareholders of a company and provide a monitory function to the trust. In addition, Members have the ability to appoint board members and have a right to amend the trust’s articles of associations. Members are expected to commit between two to four hours a month to the role.

What is the length of commitment for the role?

The length of commitment varies and should be agreed at appointment, however most trustees choose to serve for about four years. Non-executive directors can sometimes be appointed to an ‘Interim Executive Board’ – which is usually a one year or less ‘turnaround’ role.

Is it possible to have a face to face meeting with a Regional Adviser?

Regional Advisers work remotely and therefore in most circumstances it is not possible to arrange a face to face meeting. However, in some cases a face-to-face meeting may be requested.

Who are the Regional Schools Commissioners?

Information on the Regional Schools Commissioners can be found here on the Department for Education website.

Can I claim travel expenses?

All positions recruited through Academy Ambassadors are pro bono and therefore not remunerated. Travel expenses may be paid in some cases, however, this is at the discretion of the individual trust and must be discussed directly with the trust. 

Who determines the outcome of my application?

The Academy Ambassador Adviser will assess whether you fit the role criteria as stated in the trust role specification, together with our own broader eligibility criteria. We will sometimes recommend another role that is a better fit. If you are shortlisted for a trust role, your CV and expression of interest are submitted to the trust alongside other shortlisted candidates. The decision to interview a candidate and subsequently offer a board position is made entirely by the trust. A decision by the trust not to go ahead with interview does not always reflect a lack of skills and experience. The trust may be looking to build a balanced board and be seeking to avoid duplication of a skills set that is already strong within the board.

What happens if my application is not successful?

Academy Ambassadors receives a high level of interest in board roles and candidates that fit closely with the key competencies and criteria for the particular role are shortlisted. We are happy to keep details on file for those candidates who fit the eligibility criteria for our candidate pool and contact them when relevant opportunities arise. We also encourage candidates to apply for other local roles.

What are the liabilities for a non-executive director?

Academy Ambassadors has produced a guide for trustees/non-executive directors of academy trusts, to help them understand their personal liabilities alongside the obligations which stem from being a public body / charitable organisation. This is essential reading for new and existing non-executive directors. The complete pack can be downloaded here.

What are the vetting and reference procedures?

All appointments are subject to reference and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks. It is the trust’s responsibility to perform full vetting, including DBS and reference checks for appointed candidates.

Trusts

 
Who does Academy Ambassadors work with?

Academy Ambassadors provide a free, bespoke recruitment service to multi-academy trusts looking to strengthen their board Since 2013, Academy Ambassadors has helped trusts to fill over 500 board roles. High-calibre board members are motivated by a desire to use their skills for good. By working together, inspirational educationalists and talented business leaders can provide a better future for the next generation of school leavers.

SATs and small MATs with no growth plans should use Inspiring Governance, which provides ‘self-service’ web-based board recruitment. Please alert the RSC office and Academy Ambassadors to help us prioritise if your need is pressing.

At busy times there may be some delay and your adviser will inform you of the likely timescale. We may have to prioritise based on need in the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) regions of South East and South London, North West London & South Central and East of England & North East London.

How much does the Academy Ambassadors service cost?

Academy Ambassadors is a not-for-profit programme funded by the Department for Education which provides a free, bespoke service, matching business expertise with multi-academy trusts looking to strengthen their board.

What is the process of recruiting a non-executive director?

Details of the full recruitment process can be found here.

How does Academy Ambassadors find candidates?

Each trust works on their own board role specification which is used to attract candidates to the role. Once the role specification has been finalised between the Regional Adviser and the trust, it is published to the Academy Ambassadors’ website. The trust is notified when its recruitment is live with a link to the advert. Trust board roles are also circulated on our networks, which include non-executivedirectors.com, The Institute of Directors, Women on Boards and People Management Jobs amongst several other business and professional networks. When recruiting a large number of roles to one trust or to a Chair role Academy Ambassadors may recommend supplementing this with a paid advertisement route. Your Adviser will make a recommendation and Academy Ambassadors takes no service charge and makes no profit if paid adverts are used. We also use unpaid professional headhunting networks and LinkedIn headhunting to attract suitable senior level professionals to the role. Finally, we have a large number of high-calibre candidates in the Academy Ambassadors pool and will approach them directly if their skill set is suitable to the role.

What happens during a phone call with an Academy Ambassadors’ Regional Adviser?

An initial phone call with one of our Regional Advisers should last around 30 minutes. This is an opportunity for you and the Regional Adviser to discuss the trust’s recruitment needs based on the trust specification form you submitted. The phone call allows the Regional Adviser to gain a better understanding of your trust and tailor the recruitment accordingly.

Following the phone call, the Regional Adviser may ask the trust to make edits to the trust specification to create a more attractive role advert better aligned to the boards strategic needs.

The Chair of my trust is not available, can I take the call instead?

Chairs are accountable for board recruitment and Academy Ambassadors strongly encourages the initial phone call take place between the Regional Adviser and the Chair of the trust. Trust CEOs, head teachers and Clerks to the governors are more than welcome to sit in on the call in addition to the Chair. We are able to arrange a teleconference with the Regional Adviser for this purpose.

It is important that the trust has a full and open conversation with the Regional Adviser about the trust and its board to enable us to help strengthen governance.

What are the responsibilities of the trust during the recruitment process?

The Regional Adviser leading the recruitment will have an initial conversation with candidates, shortlisting those that best fit the key competencies and criteria. These candidates will be introduced to the trust. 

We are able to share candidate CVs on a rolling basis or after the closing date, dependent on the trust’s preference. The Adviser can also help the trust with shortlisting if required, although the trust is accountable for all final decisions on who to select for interview.

The trust should contact candidates to arrange interviews direct and should communicate the outcome of the interviews direct with candidates, informing Academy Ambassadors of the decisions.

Academy Ambassadors does not lead the formal sifting or interview process – appointments should be made by the trust Members. It is the trust’s responsibility to undertake full vetting, including DBS and reference checks for all candidates offered a position with the trust.

What if Academy Ambassadors is unable to find a suitable candidate for my trust role?

Academy Ambassadors works to a no failure policy and will continue to work with the trust in order to find suitable candidates, beyond the original deadline if required.  If no suitable candidates are identified in the first instance, we are able to undertake targeted headhunting for the trust and/or recirculate the trust role on our networks.

How long does it take to recruit a trustee?

Recruitment is typically open for a period of six weeks on our website and networks. In some cases, the recruitment period may need to be extended or shortened depending on the trust’s needs. 

Does Academy Ambassadors recruit school governors?

No. Trusts seeking to recruit school governors for their local governing body should contact Inspiring Governance – a national online service which works in partnership with the National Governance Association and the Department for Education. SGOSS Governors for Schools can also assist with governor recruitment.

Can Academy Ambassadors provide a skills audit?

Academy Ambassadors does not provide a skills audit or full governance evaluation. The National Governance Association publishes a skills audit and matrix, available here. There may be a cost attached for non-NGA members. In exceptional cases, Academy Ambassadors may be able to recommend an independent consultant who can provide this service.