South Orpington Learning Alliance
Based in the London Borough of Bromley, South Orpington Learning Alliance seeks three non-executive directors with either finance, change management or legal experience to support this trust of six primary schools. Board meetings are located at Tubbenden Primary School, Orpington.
About the Trust
In autumn 2013 a number of local Headteachers met to discuss how their schools could work more effectively together, building on shared local experiences as well as drawing upon the unique strengths of each school.
Ahead of most Local Authorities the London Borough of Bromley had already announced its aim for all of its schools to become Academies and as the number of Council maintained schools diminished so too did the LA’s capacity to support schools and provide the level of services previously available.
It soon became apparent that in South Orpington the schools were well-placed to formalise their existing partnership in order to strengthen provision as well as provide support for each other, and so the idea to create a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) was born. Two and a half years later, on April 1st 2016, six schools combined under the name of SOLA – the South Orpington Learning Alliance.
The Trust continues to prosper, offering an excellent education to 1,850 children and hosting 350 staff. The schools range in size from 85 to 651 children on roll. All of the academies within the trust are primary phase, of which one is junior only. Two of the schools provide small Provisions, one for severe and complex difficulties and one to support pupils with speech and learning difficulties. The Trust prides itself on seeking opportunities to fully integrate all children and to deliver outstanding education across all of its schools and Provisions.
The percentage of children that receive Free School Meals is generally low and ranges from a maximum of 17.4% to a minimum of 6.5%. The schools across the trust have an average of 8.5% of their children having Special Educational Needs. English as an Additional Language percentages are low.
You should also describe your growth plans here and a brief description of how you will deliver them.
The Trust manages an annual income in excess of £10M and has focused operationally on delivering economies of scale and financial best value from a central staffing structure. The Trust is now looking to draw-down on its experience of driving school improvement to exploit its robust processes by growing in size and stature. The Trust is well-positioned to seek meaningful partnerships with other Trusts.
Plans for the future
The key challenges for the board over the next 12-24 months are:
- To drive engagement and unity across all trust schools, ensuring that the Trust governance model is fully embedded by all who play a part in school leadership. To ensure all staff and resources are used with the best interests of the Trust in mind.
- To support its growth strategy by deepening the strategic skill set of the board of trustees and executive leadership.
- To work towards a financially sustainable workforce model across all trust schools whilst maintaining at least 'good' standards of teaching and learning
Trust ethos & values
The South Orpington Learning Alliance will be known as a community where:
- The schools each have unique strengths, but collectively demonstrate a culture and commitment to continuously improve together;
- Through a wealth of inspiring and innovative opportunities to discover and grow, children develop a thirst for knowledge and a confidence to learn. They:
- work hard and relish challenge;
- develop the skills, knowledge and independence they will need for the future;
- develop character and talents, believing they can be successful;
- are happy and safe.
- They are the schools of choice for parents and staff;
- All schools are judged ‘Good’ or better
Number of positions advertised:
Roles 1-2 – 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.
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: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/583733/Competency_framework_for_governance_.pdf
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 & Audit or
- Legal or
- Corporate Governance or
- HR & Restructuring
- Change & Growth Management
Role 1(Finance): The trust is interested in recruiting an individual with extensive financial management and audit experience within a strategic and leadership role within a business turning over at least £5M. Qualified accountants with an ACA or ACCA qualification are particularly encouraged to apply.
Role 2 (HR): The trust seeks to recruit a candidate with experience of HR management and strategy within a corporate environment. Candidates with restructuring experience are encouraged to apply.
Role 3 (Legal): The trust seeks to recruit a qualified solicitor. Applications from candidates with experience in employment law, property law or general company law would be particularly welcome.
Eight hours per month (minimum).
Location of board meetings and trust website
Board meetings are located at Tubbenden Primary school, Orpington (although all school sites are within 10 minute drive of each other).
Please see trust website: http://www.solamat.co.uk/
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 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.
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 –