Interested in becoming an Academy trustee? Find out what’s involved!

boy in class

Pic: Kuanish Reymbaev, Unsplash

The Academy Ambassadors programme – funded by the Department for Education and tasked with identifying senior leaders able, willing and ready to become trustees at academy trusts across England and ranging in size, from one school to in excess of 60 – receives many requests for highly-skilled and knowledgeable finance, accountancy, CFO and audit professionals. 

Funded by the taxpayer, academy trusts’ finances come directly from government. With budgets often into the tens of millions of pounds, accountability and scrutiny, transparency and challenge is paramount. 

What is an academy trust? 

Academy trusts are charitable bodies which support schools to give children a better future. For young people to have the best possible opportunities in later life, it’s vital that we have individuals with the right expertise leading schools, holding executive teams accountable. Becoming a Trustee is a fantastic opportunity to give back and impact your local community, by strengthening education. 

You will become both a trustee of the academy trust charity and a non-executive director of the company, listed on Companies House. 

Why volunteer? 

Volunteering on an academy trust board is deeply rewarding because there is no more important social mission than improving the life chances of young people. In this role you will be responsible for making decisions that directly impact the prosperity of the next generation and beyond. Education leaders recognise that they cannot transform standards alone. The rapid growth in the number of academies – from 200 to well in excess of 8,000 in ten years – has generated exceptional demand from trusts for business expertise on boards.  

What will I be expected to do? 

MAT boards face the same challenges as any business board: to define a compelling vision and strategy; to operate within financial constraints and to create an effective governance structure. NEDs lead strategy development and hold the executive team to account for its delivery.  

How much time is required? 

It very much depends on the size of the trust, its phase of growth and maturity – smaller, growing trusts may require more intensive guidance as they become established and take on other schools. Larger trusts that are more settled may need less immediate time and resource, but nevertheless have their own specific commitments and expectations. If you’re asked to sit on a sub-committee, this will increase the time expectation. On average, trustee/NED roles on academy trust boards require between four and eight hours per month, including meeting time and preparation. 

Appointed NEDs say that their trust role provides intellectual challenge and develops their leadership capability. High-calibre leaders are attracted to the role and nine in ten would recommend it to others. Well-known organisations already involved in the Academy Ambassador programme include BT, HSBC, PwC, Slaughter & May, Lloyds Banking Group and Rolls Royce.  

One-to-one support from a senior adviser is provided to match you to the right role in the right location. Find out more by emailing academyambassadors@newschoolsnetwork.org or by visiting www.newschoolsnetwork.org/aap

By working together, inspirational educationalists and talented business leaders can provide a better future for the next generation. 

Academy Ambassadors is part of New Schools Network. 

*The views expressed are the author’s and not ICAEW’s.

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