Non-Executive Director

Job Title: Non-Executive Director
Contract Type: Temporary
Location: Exeter
Salary: 0 - 0
Reference: Exeter Learning Academy Trust (ELAT) Sept. 2019
Contact Name: Academy Ambassadors
Contact Email:
Job Published: December 20, 2019 15:45

Job Description

Exeter Learning Academy Trust (ELAT)


Exeter Learning Academy Trust is at an exciting stage in its development and looking for new non-executive directors to guide the trust’s strategic leadership and school improvement strategy. The trust seeks to recruit a new Chair of Trustees, plus three non-executive directors/charity trustees skilled in HR, CFO/Finance, legal/compliance or Estates/IT. The trust also needs an additional Member. Board meetings are held in Exeter, EX2 8RQ.


About the trust

Exeter Learning Academy Trust was established in October 2016 and consists of four primary schools. A new CEO took up post on 1 September 2019 and in collaboration with trustees and staff started to revisit the trust’s vision, and ethos. The trust community believes that every child should have the best start in life to combat disadvantage, ensure equity and enable all to contribute to society as adults. The trust is also keen to develop a culture in which staff are valued, supported to develop professionally and share best practice within and outside the trust.

The trust currently oversees the provision of education for 1250 primary aged pupils in Devon, from which 13% receive Free School Meals, 1% have Education, Health and Care Plans and 15% have Special Educational Needs.


Plans for the future

Three key challenges for the trust over the next 12-24 months are:


  1. Vision, Ethos and Strategic Direction: to have a trust-wide ethos and vision that is embraced by all schools and ensures all the benefits of collaborative working are fully realised.
  2. Leadership and Management: Ensuring systems of governance and leadership are well structured and able to effectively monitor the performance of the trust and to improve communication across the trust. Providing support and challenge to Executive Leadership to improve educational and financial performance: managing change and evaluating the prospects for future growth.
  3. Quality of Education: To optimize the use of resources to ensure that the most vulnerable children in the trust achieve well.


Future plans: The immediate priority is to develop and embed a clear vision and ethos as a foundation for prudent, planned future growth. The Trust would also like to develop their outreach services to other schools in difficulty before considering any sponsor applications.


Trust ethos & values

Values: Loyalty Equality Aspiration Resilience Nurture


The trust’s rationale: to build on and strengthen existing relationships between schools by making a commitment to school to school support and ensuring a more effective self-improvement structure in order to meet their aims.


Role summary

Number of positions advertised:



Role 1 – Chair


The Chair leads the board of non-executive directors, or trustees, managing its business while providing an element of leadership for the organisation as a whole. The role is to hold to account the executive and senior leadership team, most specifically the CEO. The Chair needs to ensure that the board is able to deal with problems and related proposals professionally, both in terms of the skills of the trustees and the way in which it conducts its business. They will have a key role to play in recruiting and inducting new trustees.


The board’s core functions are:

  • Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction.
  • Holding the executive to account for the educational performance of the trust, its pupils and the performance management of staff.
  • Overseeing the financial performance of the trust and making sure its money is well spent.


Person specification

Every trustee is expected to abide by the trust’s code of conduct and the seven principles of public life set out by Lord Nolan: 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:


The strategic expertise required for the Chair role includes:



  • Chair
  • Change/Growth/Risk Management
  • Corporate/Charity Governance



  • CFO/ Finance
  • HR
  • Legal/ Compliance
  • Succession Planning



Time commitment

24 hours /month minimum.


Roles 2-4 – Trustee/Non-Executive Director


Person specification

The strategic expertise required for these roles includes:


Essential (due to multiple roles, candidates may be accepted who possess one or more of the skills below)

  • CEO/General Management
  • CFO/ Finance
  • HR / Restructuring
  • Audit / Legal/ Compliance
  • Real estate/ Property
  • IT/ Technology



  • Branding/ Marketing
  • Change/Growth/Risk Management
  • Corporate/Charity Governance



Time commitment

8 hours /month minimum.


Role 5 – Member


Members act as guardians of the constitution and typically meet formally once a year primarily to:

  • Appoint or remove directors/trustees;
  • Appoint the external auditors and receive the audited accounts;
  • Amend the Articles of Association (subject to any restrictions created by the Trust’s Funding Agreement of Charity Law);
  • Change the name of the charitable company and ultimately, wind up the academy trust; and
  • Issue direction to Trustees to take specific action.


Members hold significant powers and P45 - 47 of the Governance Handbook provides more detail:


Consequently, Members may wish to meet informally once every six months to ensure they are able to fulfil their roles and responsibilities effectively by maintaining oversight of sector and strategic developments in the trust, invest in professional development and/or plan the AGM agenda.


Time commitment

0.5 hours /month minimum.


Location of board meetings and trust website

Board meetings are held in multiple locations:

  • Alphington Primary School, Wheatsheaf Way, Exeter, EX2 8RQ
  • Bowhill Primary School, 4 Buddle Lane, Exeter, EX4 1JG
  • Ide Primary School, High Street, Ide, Exeter, EX2 9RN
  • St Thomas Primary School, Union Street, Exeter, EX2 9BB
  • West Exe Children’s Centre, 71 Cowick Street, City Centre, Exeter EX4 1HJ


Governance structure


Background on academy trusts

Academy schools, which are charities run independently of local authority control, now account for 69% of secondary schools and 33% 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 900 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 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: Thursday 31st October 2019