Non-Executive Director - Castle School Education Trust

Job Title: Non-Executive Director - Castle School Education Trust
Contract Type: Temporary
Location: South Gloucestershire
Salary: 0 - 0
Reference: Castle School Education Trust
Contact Name: Academy Ambassadors
Contact Email:
Job Published: September 26, 2018 14:31

Job Description

Castle School Education Trust (CSET)

Castle School Education Trust (CSET) in South Gloucestershire seeks a Chair and three non-executive directors to join its board and help shape the forward vision that takes the trust to the next level. CSET is currently made up of four large secondary schools and three primary schools. Board meetings are held across the schools in South Gloucestershire.

About the trust

CSET is a thriving multi-academy trust based in South Gloucestershire, on the outskirts of Bristol. It was created in 2013 when The Castle School in Thornbury converted to an academy. The trust has grown rapidly in its first five years and currently serves approximately 4900 pupils with a staff team of around 700 and a revenue budget of approximately £24 million. Today CSET comprises four large secondary schools and three primaries - with current Ofsted ratings ranging from Outstanding to Special Measures.

The trust is committed to working closely with other schools and academies in South Gloucestershire and the wider region. CSET is an important member of the North Avon Teaching School Alliance who work collaboratively to develop, improve and invest in teachers at all stages of their career. The trust is proud of its diverse and comprehensive intake, seeking the best learning opportunities and life outcomes for all its students. In addition, the trust runs its own separate trading company that operates some sports facilities.

Plans for the future

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

1.         Performance: the 2018 academic outcomes demonstrate continued improvement, but the trust needs to ensure that all CSET schools are rated at least Good by Ofsted.

2.         Finance: Ensure CSET is financially sustainable following a substantial restructure in 2017. Like many schools in the UK, the trust faces a very difficult funding position and so the incoming non-executive directors will work with the board and the CEO and team to deliver educational improvements in a financially sustainable way.

3.         Building conditions: There are some significant issues with building conditions at several of the trust’s sites, which the trust is seeking innovative ways to address. The trust needs to implement plans with South Gloucestershire Council to ensure The Castle School and Marlwood sites are fit for purpose.

4.         Vision and Growth: Having grown rapidly the trust now needs to shape the next stage of its vision and explore the options for viable growth while collaborating with other MATs to improve educational outcomes for all. This includes seeking opportunities to further develop the trust’s trading company.

Tust ethos & values

The trust’s mission is to provide high quality, whole education in a caring environment. They aim to establish and maintain a collaborative network among schools, both within and outside of the trust, who share their values, in order to provide excellent outcomes for all students that no school can achieve alone.

They have a strong belief in the importance of collective responsibility for the success of all children in their community and ensure a deep-rooted and continued commitment to inclusive education.

Role summary

Number of positions advertised:


Role 1 – Chair and Non-Executive Director/Trustee

The Chair leads the board of non-executive directors/trustees, which manage the trust’s business while providing leadership for the organisation as a whole. The role is to hold to account the executive and senior leadership team, most specifically the CEO, set the vision and ensure successful outcomes and sustainability. 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. S/he will have a key role to play in recruiting and inducting future new trustees.

The Chair also provides strategic leadership and governance for the trust. They are responsible for the safeguarding and education of pupils, as well as for setting and monitoring performance benchmarks.

Person specification

The competencies required for this role include:


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


  • Change Management
  • CFO/ Finance
  • Growth Management

The trust is looking for a candidate that can bring a fresh perspective and new thinking to the trust board. The successful applicant will work with the existing Chair to plan for succession. Commercially aware, they will have a track record of successful Chair/CEO experience, bringing strong inter-personal skills, with an adaptive approach and strategic mindset. Additionally, they will be committed to the CSET aim, mission and values. This means having the willingness to devote time and effort to create positive change for pupils.

As Chair, they will ensure compliance in budget setting and monitor expenditure in line with statutory obligations. They will lead the board to strategise for asset management and risk management, and will develop productive and supportive professional relationships across the board and with the CEO.

Time commitment

12 hours per month minimum.

Board meetings are held 6 times a year.

Roles 2-4 – Trustee/Non-Executive Director

Non-executive directors/trustees will be expected to provide strategic leadership and guidance. They will be responsible for the safeguarding and education of pupils. As members of the board, they will set and monitor performance benchmarks holding the executive leadership to account to ensure the highest standards of outcomes and governance. Additionally, they will provide strategies for asset management and risk management, in line with the statutory obligations of the trust. All non-executive directors/trustees will be expected to fulfil some board leadership responsibilities.

Person specification

The successful individuals will have board level or senior management experience within a public

or private organisation and experience in corporate governance. Their skillset will include strategic planning skills and the ability to adapt and transfer their experience to an educational setting. Successful individuals will have excellent communication and data analytical skills.

All new trustees/non-executive directors will bring a fresh perspective and challenge to the trust, with a desire to create positive change for its pupils. They will form part of a strong team and be able to contribute their individual perspectives to discussion and the forward plans for the trust.  A commitment to CSET’s aim, mission and values and a willingness to devote their time and effort is essential. CSET will invite all non-executive directors to sit on a trust committee in addition to board duties.

The competencies required for these roles include:

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

  • CEO/ General Management
  • Non-executive/ Trustee
  • Corporate Governance
  • Growth
  • CFO/ Finance
  • Strategic Leadership
  • IT Technology
  • HR
  • Real estate/ Property
  • Audit Committee Chair
  • Legal/ Compliance
  • Remuneration Committee Chair
  • Risk
  • Change management

The trust is open to hearing from candidates with a broad range of skills. In particular, the following skills would be of value: -

Finance: the trust seeks an experienced finance professional with an eye for financial sustainability and driving efficiencies. They will have expert knowledge of financial regulatory frameworks and the role of internal and external auditing and risk management.

Estates: an experienced estates/property management professional with financial acumen; well versed in recommended practice and able to advise on strategies for asset management across a multi-site environment.

HR: the ideal candidate will have an advanced understanding of HR and organisation development, as well as experience in handling legal and compliance issues. Previous experience as Remuneration Committee Chair is desirable.

IT/Technology: CSET requires an experienced individual with knowledge of overseeing technology operations. The ideal candidate will have experience of effective strategies needed to monitor and update IT policies and systems. They will have a proven understanding of the IT purchasing environment.

Time commitment

6 hours per month minimum.

Board meetings are held 6 times a year.

Committee meetings are held 3-4 times a year.

Location of board meetings and trust website

CSET Office, Mangotsfield School, 2 Rodway Hill, Emersons Green, Bristol BS16 9LH. Meetings will rotate around the schools.

Governance structure

The trust model has a Members board of 3 which they aim to extend to 5 over time, and a trust board of up to 12 including the CEO.

The board operates with 4 committees. The board meets 6 times a year and each committee meets 3 to 4 times a year. There is an additional committee for the trading company.

Background on academy trusts

Academy schools, which are charities run independently of local authority control, now account for 73% of secondary schools and 30% 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 775 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 19th October

Interviews: 8th November and 15th November

Selected candidates will be put forward to the trust as they are confirmed. There will be opportunities for informal visits with the Chair/trust and interviews will be held in November.