Non-Executive Director

Job Title: Non-Executive Director
Contract Type: Permanent
Location: Croydon
Salary: 0 - 0
Reference: STEP Academy Trust- April19
Contact Name: Academy Ambassadors
Contact Email:
Job Published: April 24, 2019 12:34

Job Description

STEP Academy Trust


STEP Academy Trust in South London and East Sussex has grown from one primary school to 14 primaries in seven years. The trust now seeks a new non-executive director to join the board and the Finance & Audit Committee. Board meetings are held in Croydon.


About the Trust

Founded on a commitment to a clear moral purpose, STEP Academy Trust is committed to working with schools in challenging circumstances. Over a period of seven years, STEP has developed a strong track record for rapid school improvement. The name reflects the aspirational nature of the organisation – Striving Together for Excellence in Partnership.


Schools which join STEP tend to have a complex history and are designated by Ofsted as either requiring improvement or in special measures. As such there is a need for the schools to completely change the way they are working to ensure pupil needs are at the heart of plans and decisions. Instead of acting as separate, autonomous entities, partners embrace the “one team” ethos; known within the organisation as STEP First. STEP Academy Trust has been able to establish a high degree of consistency in its approaches, providing excellent educational and operational support for Academies and effectively manage growth and development. Two central teams drive performance: one concentrates on finance, resources and operations, allowing staff to focus on teaching and learning, with a second team of high-calibre teaching professionals deployed to raise standards.


STEP has secured a high calibre, stable team throughout, with the Executive Team well regarded in the sector. Additionally, STEP has very high retention rates and is fast becoming an employer of choice. The governance structure enables trustees and governors to effectively support and challenge leaders.


STEP currently has over 4,000 primary aged pupils and an income in excess of £25m. Last year the trust saw a 20% rise in results for pupils achieving the expected standard or above in reading, writing and mathematics at schools that have been part of the trust for two or more years. Last year also saw three out of four Ofsted inspections returning an Outstanding judgement, with the fourth limited by inherited education performance. Further detail on academic performance is available online:


Full financial data is available in the latest report online:


The Mission of STEP – “To improve the life chances of all children, where we have the capacity to make a difference we are morally bound to do so” – implies the need to grow and develop. Indeed, the strategic plan for the Trust, which is called the STEP Compass, emphasizes this as one of the compass points focused on investing in the future.


Plans for the Future

The key challenges for STEP Academy Trust will be:

  1. Continue to raise standards and accelerate progress across the trust, particularly in East Sussex.
  2. Meet the challenge of flat or declining funding,  and increased costs by maximising economies of scale and income generation possibilities.
  3. Clarifying roles/responsibilities and minimising duplication within the governance model.



Whilst trustees are interested in becoming cross-phase and adding a secondary element, STEP will not compromise the model to attract potential ‘converters’ (strong schools coming out of local authority control). Indeed, the model – of which unity and togetherness is key - is expected to become even more deeply embedded in future months and years. As such, prospective partners will need to join with the understanding that will be required to operate as part of a whole and not in isolation.


Trust Ethos & Values


  • Passion — Working in education, we have the ability to profoundly change children’s lives; the stakes are high. Our aim should always be to provide for the pupils of our Academies what we would want for our own children.
  • Urgency — The amount of time children spend in education is finite. We have a responsibility to ensure that every moment a child is in a STEP Academy must be spent productively. Once wasted, it is gone forever and cannot be given back.
  • Positivity — Staff have a responsibility to be positive and supportive of each other. Negativity leads to low expectations and a culture where excuses are tolerated.
  • Aspiration — Embodied in the Trust motto, “Striving Together for Excellence in Partnership”, all members of staff aim for excellence in their individual professional roles.
  • Commitment — Staff are prepared to go the extra mile to provide the best possible education for their pupils. The interests of children are always placed ahead of those of staff.


An important bi-product of PUPAC must be an enduring sense of dissatisfaction with the status quo. Whilst it is right that achievements are celebrated, the focus remains on the challenges ahead. PUPAC forms the basis of all initial discussions with prospective employees and partners of STEP Academy Trust.


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.


The trust seek to recruit an additional Non-Executive Trustee with a finance background to enhance membership of STEP Operations and Audit Committee and to aid succession planning for the role of Committee Chair. The competencies required for this role include:



  • CFO/ Finance
  • Corporate Governance
  • Non-executive/Trustee
  • ACA Qualified Accountant
  • Organisational Cultural Change Management



  • Audit Committee Chair
  • CEO/General Management
  • Chair


Person Specification

The trust are keen to recruit a non-executive Trustee with a finance background to enhance the board, and particularly to strengthen membership of the STEP Finance and Operations Committee. The ideal candidate will have first-hand experience of implementing far-reaching cultural change within a growing and developing an organisation.


The role is likely to suit someone from a commercial background who understands the financial requirements of a growing organisation and has a strong grip on key issues such as cash flow, income, financial systems and processes but no experience of education is necessary. The current committee has members with strong financial backgrounds, including banking and accountancy.


Time Commitment

Average five hours per month – these are not always spread evenly. There are currently four Board meetings and three Committee meetings per year. 


Location of Board Meetings and Trust Website

Board meetings take place at Heathfield Academy, Aberdeen Road, South Croydon CR0 1EQ.

Trust website:


Governance Structure

Please see


Background on Academy Trusts

Academy schools, which are charities run independently of local authority control, now account for 73% of secondary schools and 28% 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 726 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.


“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 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 10th May 2019

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