Head of External Relations

NSN is looking for an experienced communications professional to join the Senior Management Team as Head of External Relations.

An unacceptable number of children fail to reach their potential because they lack access to an excellent education. Too often, a child’s background dictates their destination in life, entrenching inequality and impacting communities for generations to come. 

New Schools Network is passionate about ending educational inequality once and for all.

We envisage a country where every child has an equal chance to succeed in life, irrespective of their background. Through our programmes, we partner with individuals, groups, trusts and business leaders to establish, run and improve pioneering and innovative schools.

New Schools Network is powered by a dynamic and enthusiastic team, united by a passion for improving life chances for children through education.

Our values are:

  • We take action to generate change.
  • We embrace innovation.
  • We believe in individual agency.
  • We celebrate diversity.
  • We commit to continuous improvement.

Role summary  

NSN is looking for an experienced communications professional to join the Senior Management Team as Head of External Relations.

The role acts as a gatekeeper for NSN’s external work, and covers a range of areas including: media; policy; research and data; and events. As Head of External Relations, you will be responsible for creating and executing the annual strategy, motivating and supporting the team to deliver projects to the highest standard, and supporting the Director and the rest of the management team to promote NSN as the voice of free schools and trust governance.

Working across NSN’s programmes and services, the Head of External Relations will need to work collaboratively with a range of stakeholders, including at Ministerial level, to influence policy decisions, secure media coverage, grow digital audiences, and oversee NSN’s events calendar. Experience in communications is essential, as is a keen interest and understanding of education and politics.

The Head of External Relations will have line management responsibility of at least two members of staff, and will be accountable for their performance and development. They will report to the Director of NSN and be required to report on KPIs to NSN’s board, and on programme performance to the Department for Education.

This is a fast paced and varied role, in which no two days are the same. The successful candidate will need to be agile, have an eye for detail, and be able to manage competing priorities and deadlines. The role would suit a Head of Communications or similar, or an experienced Communications Manager looking for their first senior management role.

Key responsibilities

The role-holder will be responsible for a range of activity, including but not limited to:

  • Creating and executing an External Relations strategy, ensuring KPIs are met;
  • Commissioning, authoring, and delivering policy papers and reports (either NSN publications or in partnership with others), including editing and approval;
  • Formulating NSN’s policy positions and ensuring colleagues are up-skilled and on message;
  • Responding to public consultations from sector bodies (e.g. Ofqual, Ofsted, Education Select Committee), and policy developments and announcements;  
  • Managing parliamentary monitoring, including building relationships with MPs and others;
  • Overseeing NSN’s website, blog, social media accounts, and newsletters, including technical development and content management;
  • Overseeing media monitoring, response and rebuttal;
  • Writing and publishing articles and other media;
  • Responding to media enquiries, and acting as a point of contact for journalists, as well as proactively identifying and securing opportunities;
  • Acting as NSN’s brand guardian, managing NSN’s brand, messaging, style guides etc., and training staff as appropriate;
  • Supporting the Events Manager to deliver NSN’s annual events programme;
  • Managing NSN’s internal commissioning structure, ensuring programme teams receive communications materials in a timely and efficient manner;
  • Project managing across a range of other ad-hoc requirements, including creating and commissioning videos; creating resources, merchandise and other materials; and managing online campaigning (e.g. Facebook Ads);  
  • Line managing the External Relations team, including CPD and development, and performance management and appraisal;
  • Reporting to NSN’s Board and the Department for Education as required, ensuring KPIs are met and the External Relations strategy remains appropriate;
  • Representing NSN at external events and meetings, including with Ministers and Civil Servants;
  • Any other reasonable requests as required by the Director and/or NSN’s Board.
Skills and experience

Candidates must be able to demonstrate strong and well developed skills in:

  • Successfully delivering a high volume of tasks at pace;
  • Leading a team;
  • Public speaking and representing an organisation;
  • Communication, including writing for different audiences;
  • Organisation, multi-tasking and handling pressure; 
  • Understanding of, and interest in, the education sector and political system;
  • A positive ‘can do’ attitude, with a willingness to work hard and support the wider team.
Desirable experience
  • Experience working in a relevant role or organisation, or in a similar role, as a line manager, and/or senior management experience;
  • Experience of managing a wide-ranging brief and communications strategy;
  • Experience in proactively leading, maintaining and enhancing relationships with external stakeholders of all levels;
  • Experience with a range of online platforms (Salesforce, Drupal etc.).  

£38,000-£45,000 dependent on experience.


Flexible working; generous company pension contribution; generous leave allowance, plus Christmas closure; Cycle to Work scheme; access to office spaces (depending on location)


This is a full time, permanent role. As a result of changes made during the pandemic, all roles are currently based from home (subject to ongoing organisational review) with regular staff meetings in London, Manchester or Bristol.

How to apply

Candidates are invited to submit a CV along with a cover letter, stating their suitability for the role and how they fit the key competencies, skills and experience. Please submit your CV and covering letter via email to jobs@newschoolsnetwork.org

Successful applicants will be invited to interview to be held in central London or virtually (format TBD). Candidates will be provided with a task to complete before interview. NSN reserves the right to close this advertisement and appoint early if a high volume of suitable applications are received; we strongly encourage applications to be submitted as soon as possible.

NSN encourages applications from all backgrounds, communities and industries, and is committed to having a team with diverse skills, experiences and abilities. As a Disability Confident employer, we are committed to making appropriate arrangements or adjustments where necessary in order to create a full and equal participation in the selection process. If you require any reasonable adjustments, please contact the recruitment team to see how we can meet your needs.

Closing date
Midday, Wednesday 5th January 2022