Non-Executive Director X 3

Job Title: Non-Executive Director X 3
Location: Unknown
Salary: 0 - 0
Reference: Northern Lights Learning Trust (NLLT)
Contact Name: Academy Ambassadors
Job Published: June 18, 2019 15:02

Job Description

Northern Lights Learning Trust (NLLT)


Northern Lights Learning Trust (NLLT) is aiming to grow from its current three schools, including potentially becoming a sponsor multi-academy trust (MAT) in due course. It also aspires to open a Free School. In order to achieve its aim, the trust seeks to recruit up to three new board members, possessing skills in Finance, Law and Risk, along with proven experience of board-level working, to help guide its strategy and growth. Candidates of all faiths, and of none, are welcome to apply. Board meetings are held at Marcross Drive, Sunderland.


About the trust

The trust originated with one successful school, Benedict Biscop, which converted to academy status and then multi academy trust shortly after.


Now comprising three schools, two of which are based in Hartlepool and a further one in Sunderland, there are two Church schools, Benedict Biscop CE Primary Academy and St Peter’s Elwick CE Primary School, and one non-faith school in the trust, Hart Community Primary School. The trust is currently applying to become an approved sponsor and has a Free School application to submit, with a proposed school to be situated in Newcastle.


The mix of faith and non-faith schools forms part of the distinctiveness of the trust and the schools

within it. We are looking to expand both faith and non-faith schools.


The trust has a teaching school and a National Support school alongside a National Leader of Education and a number of well-deployed Senior Leaders of Education.


NLLT places school improvement at the heart of the trust, ensuring that all pupils, schools and staff are better for being part of the trust. The CEO sits on a number of key regional boards, such as Schools North East and the Durham Diocese Board of Education. The trust also works closely with the Department of Education meeting regularly with Ministers and advisors.



Plans for the future

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


  1. Growth - to continue to grow the trust to approximately 10 schools so that it is a viable size to ensure sharing of good practice is most effective and partnership working is maximised;
  2. Curriculum reviews - to ensure the curriculum meets the needs of all learners in all areas to provide a holistic education, as judged in the Ofsted new inspection framework;
  3. Finance - in a challenging financial environment for schools, the trust is identifying ways to maximise funding and efficiencies for all schools in the trust alongside finances to ensure the central services provided are most effective for schools.


Over the medium term, the trust is looking to establish itself, having grown from one school to three in the last year. It additionally seeks to develop its vision, maximising effective partnership working across the trust. The trust’s Free School application is currently awaiting submission and the trust is currently applying to be a sponsor.


Trust ethos & values

The Northern Lights Learning Trust vision:


…we want every child, in all of our academies, to be inspired to learn as individuals, to have high aspirations, to relish challenge, and develop a sense of responsibility demonstrating a high level of respect for others.


Role summary

Number of positions advertised:



Roles 1-3 – Trustee/Non-Executive Director

Trustees – or non-executive directors - are both charity trustees and company directors of the academy trust. The core functions of their role are: ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction; holding executive leaders to account for the educational and financial performance of a charitable company funded by the public purse.


The board of trustees manages the business of the academy trust and may exercise all the powers of the trust in compliance with its charitable objects, company and charity law.


Non-executive directors will be responsible for maintaining stability and the management of a dynamic structure. The role also includes contributing to financial planning for sustainability and potential growth, and holding the CEO/CFO to account.


In the interests of safeguarding, all trustee appointments would be subject to an enhanced disclosure and barring service check.


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 this role includes:


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

  • CFO/ Finance AND
  • Risk OR
  • Legal/ Compliance OR
  • Growth Management AND
  • Non-executive/ Trustee AND
  • Corporate Governance



  • Branding/ Marketing
  • Change Management
  • IT/ Technology


The trust seeks up to three individuals, each bringing skills in supporting and challenging the senior executive team to achieve excellent outcomes. Excellent communication skills and ability to work well as part of a team are essential, along with the willingness to learn and an interest in the education sector. A commitment to achieving the highest possible outcomes for the trust is essential.


Role 1 - Finance: A finance specialist with a proven record of guiding and delivering strategy in a senior role, the ideal candidate will hold a relevant qualification and have experience in corporate governance and/or past experience in a charity/non-profit context. Candidates are sought with demonstrable record in managing risk in a corporate environment.


Role 2 – Legal/ Compliance: An individual from a law background, possessing relevant qualifications and a demonstrable and extensive track record in a legal capacity, is sought to help prepare the trust for the planned period of growth and expansion. Additionally, experience of working at board level, of strategic thinking and holding senior executive to account is highly advantageous. Experience of working in an environment of change and an ability to advise on legal implications of such is also highly sought.


Role 3 – Non-executive/ Trustee: An experienced non-executive director, possessing extensive prior experience in a trustee role or similar is required, bringing an ability to help shape the trust strategy and vision going forward. In line with its future plans, the trust aims to ensure it has a strategy that will enable it to maintain standards, operate sustainably and deliver outcomes while growing and ensuring effective partnership working.


Time commitment

4 hours /month minimum.  Additional time needed for preparation.



Location of board meetings and trust website

Board meetings are held at Marcross Drive, Sunderland, SR3 2RE.


Governance structure


Background on academy trusts

Academy schools, which are charities run independently of local authority control, now account for 74% of secondary schools and 31% 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 832 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 focussed 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: Friday, 26th July 2019