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The Role of Non-Executive Directors in Academies....

The Department for Education (DfE) is seeking business people to be non-Executive Directors on boards....


A Note on Academies

Academies are state schools. They are independent from local authorities and run by charitable trusts. Academies have significant freedoms over finance, organisation, staffing, pay, the curriculum and length of the school day and term.

There are two principal types of academy:

  1. Sponsored academies. These replace an underperforming school, under the control of a sponsor. The sponsor sets up a charitable trust that is in control of the school. A sponsor can be anyone who is approved by Ministers to run a school.
  2. Converter academies. These are schools that have asked to become an academy and pass performance and financial criteria.  

In addition, anyone can set up a Free School, which is a new school set up as an academy.

Sponsors include businesses and individual businessmen, high performing schools and universities, and indeed livery companies: the Drapers’ Multi-Academy Trust was founded in 2014; the Haberdashers’ Aske’s Federation sponsors three academies; Hammersmith Academy is co-sponsored by the Mercers and the Information Technologists.

Many sponsors run chains of academies and free schools. Most of these chains have a high proportion of previously underperforming schools in challenging areas.

Each academy trust is governed by a charitable trust board. Boards are independent and appoint their own chair.

The Role of NED

With a view to ensuring that academy trusts have the skills and experience necessary to run their organisations effectively, the DfE is seeking business people to be NEDs on boards.

The time commitment would be for around four to twelve meetings per year, with preparation time. In addition board members will want to spend some time at the academies involved.                                    

Academy Trustees and non-Executive Directors