Prosper Learning Trust is seeking to appoint two new board members, including Finance and HR skills, to help it develop over a period of change and expansion. Board meetings are held at Newcastle Bridges School, Newcastle upon Tyne.
About the trust
Prosper Learning Trust aims to meet the needs of very vulnerable learners who cannot access mainstream education. Prosper Learning Trust is a sponsor, approved by the Department for Education (DfE).
The trust currently comprises Newcastle Bridges School (NBS), a multi-site Hospital Special School consisting of a number of provisions, each meeting a specific and distinct need. Among these, Benfield provision is a secondary-aged provision for approximately 80 students with long standing attendance problems at mainstream schools due to anxiety/vulnerability or pregnant schoolgirls and school age mothers; NBS has two nurseries to provide for the children of these learners.
Community Teaching provision is based within Benfield and provides education to primary- and secondary-aged children who are medically unfit to attend mainstream schools; the majority of referrals are mental health-related.
The Great North Children’s Hospital provision is a regional hospital for many specialised services within paediatrics; it also serves the international community as a centre of excellence.
Alnwood is a medium secure inpatient assessment and treatment provision for young people aged between 12 and 18 years with complex mental health needs, including those with a learning disability.
Ferndene is an inpatient assessment and treatment provision for 40 young people with complex health, behavioural and emotional needs including those with a learning disability.
The Complex Neurodevelopmental Disorder Service (CNDS) provision is a specialist tertiary service providing second opinions about children and young people who may have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other complex mental health neurodevelopmental problems.
Linhope Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) has recently been sponsored with the aim of securing and developing an outstanding holistic provision for vulnerable students within Newcastle.
The planned partnership will ensure the increasing cross-over of needs between provisions and will ensure students are appropriately placed on the correct educational pathways.
A third school is anticipated to join the trust during 2018 and the trust is also exploring the possibility of opening a new Free school.
Plans for the Future
The key challenges for the board over the next 12-24 months are:
- School Improvement – supporting Linhope leadership and staff to move the school from Ofsted ‘Special Measures’ (as in February 2016) to ‘Outstanding’ within three years.
- To grow the trust in line with the expected growth model; this will see the anticipated establishment of a multi-academy trust with six academies within two years.
- Stabilising the two new schools through a clear vision for managed expansion and maintaining standards.
Newcastle Bridges School is anticipating that two local special schools will join the planned MAT within the coming 12 months, allowing the MAT to have a greater strategic input into the future direction of Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) within Newcastle.
Trust Ethos & Values
The ethos of Prosper is fully inclusive focused on treating every pupil as an individual, with personalised learning programmes designed to meet their learning, personal, social and emotional needs, while acknowledging and recognising the impact of their medical and/or mental health condition and linked behaviours on their ability to learn. The trust is seeking to build on this ethos across all of its schools.
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 role is to hold to account the executive and senior leadership team. The board of trustees manages the business of the academy trust and may exercise all the powers of the trust. The trustees ensure compliance with the trust’s charitable objects and with company and charity law.
Non-executive directors will be responsible for maintaining stability during a period of rapid growth and the management of a dynamic structure. The role also includes contributing to financial planning for sustainability and growth, and holding the CEO/CFO to account.
The competencies required for this role include:
Essential (due to multiple roles, candidates may be accepted who possess one or more of the skills below)
- CFO/ Finance OR
- Audit Committee OR
- Risk OR
- HR OR
- Legal/ Compliance
- Growth Management
- Succession Planning
- Change Management
- Role 1: Finance - The ideal candidate will have a background in a large charity or non-profit organisation, with experience of succession planning, managing business growth and with demonstrable skills in the area of finance and financial strategy. This may be in a commercial, retail or industry setting, demonstrating evidence of growing a business, chain of businesses or franchises, as well as experience of head office and organisational development, including driving up business efficiency in central services.
- Role 2: HR - The preferred candidate will possess skills and experience to handle the personnel challenges of a large and growing staff body including reviewing performance of multiple senior staff, remuneration decisions regarding salaries, HR and legal expertise to handle grievance cases or where redundancies are planned, staff engagement and development.
6 hours /month minimum.
Location of Board Meetings and Trust Website
Trust board meetings are held at Newcastle Bridges School, Cherrywood, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 4NW.
Trust website - www.bridges.newcastle.sch.uk
Background on Academy Trusts
Academy schools, which are charities run independently of local authority control, now account for 73% of secondary schools and 29% 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 760 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.
“Academy 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 (2017)
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
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, July 20