Apr 302020

2 Non-Executive Directors - The Olive Tree Primary School

The Olive Tree Primary School
Audit | CEO/ General Management | CFO/Financial | Corporate Governance | Human Resources | Legal/Compliance | Non-Executive/Trustee | Risk
Deadline date: 15th May 2020

The Olive Tree Primary Trust seeks to recruit two new non-executive directors and a new member to its board. Whilst this is designated as a Muslim faith school, Members and trustees are keen to invite applicants of any faith, or indeed no faith at all to provide a broader range of views and demonstrate independence. The Board meetings are held at the school in Bolton.

About the trust

The Olive Primary School is a single academy trust, it opened as a brand-new free school in 2013 and was judged ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted at its first inspection in July 2015. The school has 420 pupils, 55 staff members and a budget of around £2 million. Almost three-quarters of its pupils have English as an additional language.

The trust has experienced some challenges and has been criticized over some of it procedures. Financially the trust is sound with a healthy reserve but procedural practices have resulted in the Education & Skills Funding Agency (EFSA) issuing the trust with a Financial Notice to Improve (FNtI). The FNtI has not yet been published but is available from the trust. The DfE/ESFA have shared with Academy Ambassadors that the trust has responded positively and they welcome the opportunity to appoint some new, independent trustees to the board to help improve overall governance.

Plans for the future

Three key challenges for the trust over the next 12-24 months are:

  1. Ensuring a stable and effective organisational environment that provides the best learning outcomes for the children whilst both supporting and challenging the executive leaders.
  2. Strengthening governance through robust processes that ensure perceived conflicts of interests are managed at all levels and any additional programmes are thoroughly vetted and costed. This will include the removal of the FNtI.
  3. Developing a high degree of financial probity, which is maintained through challenge, and effective implementation of the Academies Financial Handbook.

The trust has a vision to expand, share best practice and grow. The team hope this will be through initially expanding the age range to allow existing pupils to continue their learning experience under the same ethos and philosophy by developing a secondary provision.

Trust ethos & values

Olive Tree Primary School works closely with its community and is a faith designated school with an Islamic ethos, which means that its core values and ethos are central to the development of pupils as:

  • Successful learners;
  • Confident individuals;
  • Responsible citizens.

The trust’s vision is ‘Believe You Can’ and is strongly based on the belief that all children and adults can and will succeed.

Further information on vision and values can be found here: http://www.theolivetreeprimary.com/vision-values--ethos.html

Role summary

Number of positions advertised: 3

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.

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: 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
    • HR
    • Compliance
    • Risk
  • Desirable
    • Audit Committee Chair
    • Remuneration Committee Chair
    • Corporate Governance
    • Strategic
    • Qualified Accountant

Role 1: This individual will have demonstrable experience as the CFO/Finance Director of a company, with responsibility for managing a large budget. A qualified accountant is preferred.

  • Experience of an Audit committee and/or board level finance experience would be a particular advantage together with knowledge of risk management and statutory compliance obligations.
  • Familiarity with the current Charity Commission is not essential but would be an asset.

Role 2: The trust seeks a person with substantial senior experience HR in a medium or large commercial company. Ideally the suitable candidate will have Director level strategic experience of HR.

Time commitment

The trust board meets 5 times a year and board meetings tend to be held on Mondays at 7pm. Some trustees are invited to join one of the tree sub-committees depending on skills and interests. The subcommittees are Finance, HR & Standards, and Safeguarding. Subcommittee meetings may move around the week to match trustees availability but tend to commence around 5pm on a week-day. In general trustees should be able to commit to around 6 hours per month (on average).

Role 3 – Member

Members are able alter the trust’s Articles of Association and appoint (or remove) trustees/directors where necessary. They provide independent oversight to the work of the board of trustees in order to ensure suitable accountability for its decision making and strategy. Members are deemed to be ‘eyes on but hands-off’ and would only intervene in extreme circumstances.

Person specification

The competencies required for this role include:

  • Essential
    • CEO/General Management
    • Non-executive/ Trustee
  • Desirable
    • Corporate Governance
    • Legal/Compliance

The demands on a Member are relatively light and is likely to be around 12 hours over the year. The trust seeks individuals with an extensive and demonstrable background in a senior leadership role, with strategic vision and knowledge of the role of a non-executive director.

A good communicator and a ‘team player’, committed to attending Members’ meetings is essential. An individual with good business acumen is advantageous, as well as experience of working within a public sector environment, preferably at board level. An interest in education and an awareness of current educational priorities would be advantageous but is not essential.

Time commitment

Members are required to attend two meetings a year to oversee the strategy. The two new members will add to the already broad skillset within the existing team of three members.

Location of board meetings and trust website

The Olive Tree Primary School, Adelaide St, Bolton, BL3 5RW


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 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.


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 register your interest and send a copy of CV and a short expression of interest, detailing which role you are applying for. 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 email [email protected].

Key dates

Deadline for applications: due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this deadline has been extended to Friday 15th May 2020

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.

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