Non-Executive Director - Ventrus Trust Spec

Job Title: Non-Executive Director - Ventrus Trust Spec
Location: Exeter
Salary: 0 - 0
Reference: Ventrus Multi Academy Trust
Contact Name: Academy Ambassadors
Contact Email:
Job Published: September 10, 2018 17:28

Job Description

Ventrus Multi Academy Trust

Ventrus Multi Academy Trust seeks four trustees/non-executive directors with experience in HR, finance, compliance/legal, risk and succession planning to join its board. Candidates will also be able to explore opportunities for succession planning for the trust board chair and vice chair roles. The trust currently has 15 schools across Devon with plans to grow further in the county.  Board meetings are held in Exeter.

About the Trust

Ventrus (formally The Primary Academies Trust) was set up in 2011 by a group of headteachers with the aim to build a stable and secure platform to grow a network of excellent schools. Following three further schools joining the trust this August 2018, Ventrus has grown to incorporate 1 secondary school and 14 primary schools and is responsible for approx 4000 students, 750 + staff and an annual revenue budget in excess of £20 million. The trust is now a network of extremely varied schools ranging from those operating in urban and coastal areas with high levels of deprivation to those in affluent rural villages. The trust also includes a teaching school and has two schools in the pipeline to join the trust in 2019, in addition to opening a brand new 420-place primary school in Bideford for September 2021.


Having experienced significant financial challenges over the past 12-18 months, the trust has been rigorous in its approach and carried out the necessary steps to bring itself out of a difficult financial period.

The capability and capacity to deliver ‘excellence’ comes from a track record of sustainable improvements to date that ensure children from Ventrus schools achieve well.

Plans for the Future

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

  1. Financial challenge; complete the final steps of the deficit recovery strategy with a continued focus on improving outcomes in the face of rising costs whilst operating a sustainable staffing structure to accommodate anticipated growth. The trust has been successful to-date in its approach which has been recognised by the Education and Skills Funding Agency and thus could be developed as an approach to help other trusts.
  2. Improving the quality of teaching and outcomes at all schools, especially at Pilton Community College and Sampford Peverell Church of England Primary School.
  3. Successful integration of new schools and delivery of Bideford Free School into the trust.
  4. Growth; the trust is committed to sustainable growth, strengthening its presence and the quality of education in areas of Devon where the trust has existing schools. Growth is likely to come from conversion and sponsorship of schools, but the board is also open to the potentials of merging with another MAT where they can improve the outcomes and bring benefits to the children.
  5. Strengthen the board and succession planning: The board seeks to strengthen its board through replacing skillsets of those trustees whose terms are ending shortly, and to strengthen succession planning for both the Chair and Vice-Chair roles.

Trust Ethos & Values

Ventrus is a values-led organisation focused on transforming lives through high-quality collaboration and innovation across and beyond its family of schools. The vision for the trust is to be an Employer of Choice, an Educator of Choice and a Community Organisation.  Ventrus believes that their values drive their behaviours, which in turn creates the culture of the organisation. The trust’s model is one of partnership based networks of like-minded people working together on shared areas of strength, weakness or interest to facilitate understanding that secures continuous school improvement. The trust aims for collaboration not competition, innovation not isolation, sustainable success through system leadership.

Find out more at

Role Summary

Number of Positions Advertised: 4

As four of the board’s trustees near the end of their respective terms, the Ventrus trust board requires four new non-executive directors with the skill sets outlined below.

The non-executive directors will be accountable for maintaining standards and ensuring financial stability across the trust during a period of further growth, contributing to strategic and financial planning and holding the CEO to account.

Over the next 12-18 months, the board will also be looking to develop succession planning for successful non-executive candidates that wish to explore opportunities to succeed the Chair and Vice-Chair roles. The trust is keen to hear from candidates that have the skills and experience outlined below and who would be open to considering future chair roles. The trust is also interested to hear from candidates that in addition to the skills below can bring experience of chairing a board or a governance committee.

Role 1 – Trustee/Non-Executive Director – HR Portfolio Holder

Role Specification

The trust board's lead on HR, with oversight for the strategic direction of HR related activities including the HR strategy; and monitoring its impact through regular portfolio meetings with Executive leaders, enabling appropriate support and challenge and reporting to the board.

Person Specification

The competencies required for this role include:


  • HR
  • Change Management
  • Succession Planning


  • Corporate Governance
  • Growth Management
  • Restructuring
  • Turnaround
  • HR: The ideal candidate will have operated at a strategic level within an organisation of scale, demonstrating executive level HR leadership. They will be able to bring previous experience of running HR functions and supporting teams within a changing challenging financial environment to the trust, including effective leadership succession planning.

Role 2 – Trustee/Non-Executive Director – Premises Portfolio Holder

Role Specification

This role will lead the Premises portfolio for the trust board, with oversight of the strategic direction of Premises related activities, including the Premises strategy and monitoring its impact through regular portfolio meetings with Executive leaders, enabling appropriate support and challenge and reporting to the board.

Person Specification

The competencies required for this role include:


  • Real Estate/Property
  • Risk


  • Branding/marketing
  • Change Management
  • Entrepreneur/ Founder
  • Non-executive/Trustee
  • Real Estate/Property: The trust seeks a candidate with experience of multi-site estate management across a varied portfolio of premises. Candidates should be able to support the Executive team in making the right premises decisions within a challenging budgetary environment. Experience in branding/marketing is also desirable to maximise the potential of each site.

Role 3 – Trustee/Non-Executive Director – Finance and Audit Committee

Role Specification

This role sits within the Finance and Audit Committee, to assist in providing a strategic overview, challenge and scrutiny of the trust's finances, systems and controls.

Person Specification

The competencies required for this role include:


  • CFO/Finance
  • Risk
  • Corporate Governance


  • Audit Committee Chair
  • Growth Management
  • IT/Technology
  • Legal/Compliance

CFO/Finance: The trust is eager to appoint a strategic thinking finance professional with excellent financial acumen and experience of corporate accounts, managing risk and developing income streams. Candidates should have worked within a corporate or charity organisation of scale operating significant P&L in a position of strategic accountability for others. Experience of both managing tight financial budgets and setting up and operating a successful trading arm would also be of value.

Role 4 – Trustee/Non-Executive Director – Local governing bodies link

Role Specification

The Ventrus trust model allows for one or more non-executive directors to represent the Local Governing Bodies (LGBs) of the schools. This is a pivotal position as a conduit for the LGBs to be represented at board level and for the board to ensure consistency throughout the schools LGBs, ensuring that the board has close ties and understanding of the schools without compromising accountability models.

Person Specification

The competencies required for this role include:


  • Legal/compliance
  • Corporate Governance
  • Non-executive/ Trustee


  • Chair
  • Change Management
  • Risk
  • Turnaround
  • Legal/Compliance: The ideal candidate will have operated at board level and be an excellent communicator at all levels with an understanding of corporate and/or charity governance and law.

Time Commitment for all roles

6-10 hours per month (minimum) as a non-executive director.

Location of Board Meetings and Trust Website

Board meetings are held at Woodwater Academy, Woodwater Lane, Exeter, EX25AW.

The trust’s website is:

Governance Structure

The board meets six times a year and has two committees which trustees may be asked to join. However, the board predominantly operates as a portfolio model meaning most trustees attend trust board meetings and meetings with the respective operational lead for their portfolio area.

More information can be found here:

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:

Wednesday, 31st October 2018

Interviews:    Shortlisting for non-executive roles takes place at several stages to help both candidates and the trust ensure the cultural alignment for new non-executives and enabling the candidates to get to know the trust in more detail. Candidates should expect to have an initial informal meeting with the Chair of the trust, followed by an opportunity to meet with the CEO and either attending a meeting with the board and/or with the LGB Chairs forum. A formal interview is then held before appointment recommendation.