Being an academy trust non-executive director


Many outstanding business leaders are choosing to become trust board non-executives. They gain huge satisfaction from building thriving new trusts and turning round failing schools.

Academy trust non-executive directors 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.

Board roles are available for a range of senior leaders from those seeking their first board-level experience through to those already holding a commercial non-executive director portfolio. The non-executive director role offers opportunities for accountants, lawyers, marketing professionals, HR directors, change managers and a range of other skilled leaders.

A diverse range of board-level skills is required to oversee the complexity of academy trust governance. The trust will seek to use your skills and experiences together with those of other board members to build a fully-rounded board. Organisations already involved include BT, PwC, Slaughter & May, Lloyds Banking Group and Rolls Royce. The Academy Ambassadors Programme is endorsed by the Institute of Directors (IoD) and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

Giving back

The main reason business leaders choose to join academy trusts is to ‘give back’ – by giving to education you are helping to shape a better future for the next generation. Raising school standards ensures young children are better prepared for secondary school, more school leavers gain the qualifications they deserve, and vulnerable children are given the opportunity of a better life.

A role that fits your career and aspirations

A role with an academy trust can offer a variety of challenge to leaders at varying stages of their career. If you are moving on from full-time work into a portfolio career, there are roles that will offer significant challenge and reward and require maturity and depth of leadership experience. If you are seeking continuing professional development opportunities, there are roles that are more suitable for those new to a non-executive career.

Gaining company and charity non-executive experience

As academies are covered by both company and charity law, the role offers a unique opportunity to develop leadership skills relevant to both the private and third sectors. In the academy trust board role you will, therefore, gain experience both as a ‘non-executive director’ and a ‘trustee’.

Leadership development

The number of academies has grown rapidly in recent years, and continues to increase. That rate of change brings significant challenges for the trust non-executives – but also provides those non-executives with the opportunity to develop board-level skills and experience at pace.      

The commitment

  • Non-executive directors usually contribute between eight and twelve hours per month for board meetings and preparation.
  • Most appointments are made for a term of three to four years, however the length of your term will be agreed on appointment.
  • Board positions recruited via the Academy Ambassadors Programme are pro-bono and are not remunerated. Non-executive director expenses may be paid by the trust.
  • All candidates working with the Academy Ambassadors Programme are expected to meet the standards of conduct detailed in the DfE Model Articles of Association and the Nolan Principles of Public Life
  • All NEDs appointed will be subject to a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check by the appointing trust and references will be taken up by the trust.

Get involved

Get involved by applying for a current board opportunity. You can also register your interest in joining our pool of candidates if there are no roles available to suit your preferred location and skill set. One-to-one support from a senior Academy Ambassadors Programme Adviser is provided to match you to the right role in the right location.