Non-Executive Director X 3 at The Acorn Trust

Job Title: Non-Executive Director X 3 at The Acorn Trust
Contract Type: Contract
Location: Wigan
Salary: 0 - 0
Reference: The Acorn Trust
Contact Name: Academy Ambassadors
Contact Email:
Job Published: July 08, 2019 14:58

Job Description


The Acorn Trust


The Acorn Trust seeks three new non-executive directors to join its board. The Acorn Trust was created in September 2013 and currently consists of two primary schools; both schools converted together when the multi-academy trust (MAT) was created.  The main purpose of the trust is to be a place where schools (convertor or sponsor) can work collaboratively to be the best they can be. Board meetings are held in Wigan.


About the trust


The aim is for all schools in the trust to be successful, self-governing schools providing the best education for the children in their care.


The Acorn Trust has been commissioned by the Local Authority to lead the Startwell Family Centre within Leigh. The Westleigh Start Well Family Centre will undertake all the duties of a children’s centre whilst playing a strategic role in the development of an integrated delivery model for families within the Wigan Local Authority, with a key focus on improving outcomes in school readiness within the locality. Its plays a key role in safeguarding within the locality.


The trust comprises two, one-form-entry Primary Schools with nursery provision from two years upwards and one Start Well Family Centre but has ambitions to grow the trust further and already has clearance to expand from the Regional schools Commissioner.


Plans for the future

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


  1. Manage strategic growth of the trust in the area to support more children.
  2. Maintain the strength and drive further improvements in the current schools as they expand by adding more schools and the Family Centre
  3. Continue to build capacity ahead of need in terms of the trusts staffing.
  4. Build capacity and broader experience on the trust board to develop sharper strategic plans


The trust has a plan to expand to incorporate more schools (both sponsored academies and strong schools). The trust is holding a development day in September - this would be an ideal opportunity for prospective trustees to attend and find out about the vision of the trust.


Trust ethos & values

The Acorn Trust is a family of schools where collaboration, challenge and celebration is at the heart. The trust strives to support children to achieve their potential, enabling them to have a great future. It believes this is achieved in schools where children are at the centre.


Role summary

Number of positions advertised: 3


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
  • Risk
  • HR
  • Corporate Governance



  • Growth Management
  • Change Management
  • Succession Planning
  • CEO/General Management



Role 1: The trust seeks a board member with a high-level financial skill set and the potential to take on the role of Chair of Finance. A recognised financial qualification is desirable. Significant business acumen is required, alongside demonstrable experience of supporting and ensuring financial sustainability.


Role 2: Ideal candidates will have board level experience in strategic HR. As experienced business leaders and strategic planners, the successful applicant will have the ability and determination to adapt and transfer their experience to an educational setting.


Role 3: Candidates should be an experienced senior level manager/director who is used to working in a highly collaborative way. Whilst Executive Board, Trustee or Governor experience is not a prerequisite, individuals who have held any of these positions would bring ideal, additional skills to the board.


The ideal candidates will have an in-depth understanding of the impact of effective governance, possessing an independent-minded, enquiring and analytical approach. A drive for improvement is key to success, as well as preparedness to challenge the status quo and raise standards across the trust.


Time commitment

Board meetings are held 6 times a year (roughly one per half term) and are always set well in advance to allow trustees to manage their diaries.  Meetings tend to be held at 0800 or 1700 and last for up to 2 hours. The trust is well provided for in terms of training and thus a suitable induction and training programme will be available.  There are odd occasions when trustees may be invited to visit schools to get an understanding of the board’s decisions at school level. Altogether it is estimated that trustees will need to allocate an average of 5-6 hours per month to read papers, prepare and attend meetings as well and undertake any training.



Location of board meetings and trust website

Bedford Hall Methodist School, Breaston Avenuem, Leigh, WN7 3DJ


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 9th August 2019

Interviews:    TBC