Apr 072020

Non-Executive Director - Norwich Free School

CFO/Financial | Human Resources
Deadline date: 10th May 2020

Norwich Free School seeks two new non-executive directors with experience in Finance and HR. The ethos of the trust is 'Opportunity and Achievement for All’. The Free School Norwich was ranked in the top 3% of schools in England for pupil progress in 2016 and 2018 - Department for Education. The school was awarded the Quality Mark Award for English and Mathematics in 2017 and 2019. Board meetings are held at the school in Central Norwich.

About the trust

The Free School Norwich is a popular and highly successful co-educational school for children aged 4 – 11 years old. The trust welcomes children of all abilities, faiths and social backgrounds. Situated in the centre of Norwich in a beautiful Georgian house, they offer a unique educational experience with a truly broad and balanced curriculum. The school is a very happy environment where individual interests are encouraged and developed. Academic standards are high and the school has a strong tradition of success in sport, music and drama.

The trust believe that learning should equip children with the knowledge, understanding and skills needed to succeed in their adult lives. They also believe that children learn best when the learning is relevant and fun. The curriculum is broadly based upon the objectives of the National Curriculum, but focuses upon teaching key skills through a creative, cross-curricular approach.

The School is the home to the Norfolk Schools Dyslexia Support Network. The aim of the network is to promote awareness and understanding of dyslexia in schools across Norfolk and to provide free practical advice for schools on how to support dyslexic pupils to enable them to achieve their potential.

Plans for the future

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

  1. Explore options for future expansion to ensure financial viability and provide much needed places at a good/outstanding primary school in the centre of Norwich
  2. Succession planning for critical roles
  3. Providing great challenge to the executive team through well-informed committed trustees

Trust ethos & values

The Free School Norwich mission is to:

  • Provide a truly broad and balanced primary school education for children.
  • Enable children to identify and develop their individual strengths and interests so that they can achieve their potential in life.
  • Help increase the economic well-being of children by enabling their parents to work.

The ethos of the school is 'Opportunity and Achievement for All'.

Role summary

Number of positions advertised: 2

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 and in accordance with DfE requirements, all trustee appointments will 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)
    • HR
    • CFO/Finance
  • Desirable
    • Non-executive/ Trustee
    • Succession Planning
    • CEO/ General Management
    • Primary Education
    • Chartered Accountant

Role 1 - HR: The successful candidates must have senior experience of HR, professional development and/or change management to support positive trust growth. They will support the trustee in developing processes to ensure effective succession planning within the trust.

Role 2 - Finance: The trust would welcome applications from candidates who hold or have held a finance leadership and management position in a medium to large organisation with significant experience of audit and risk management. Whilst an accounting qualification would be an advantage, it is not essential. Applications from candidates with experience in charity or public sector finance / audit roles would be particularly welcome. The trust would hope and expect the successful candidate to chair the risk and audit committee.

Time commitment

6-8 hours /month minimum.

Location of board meetings and trust website

http://www.freeschoolnorwich.org.uk. The Free School Norwich, Kings House, Surrey Street, Norwich, NR1 3NX.

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 send your CV and a short expression of interest detailing which role you are applying for to academyambassadors@newschoolsnetwork.org. 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 www.academyambassadors.org.

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: 10 May 2020

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