Orchard Hill College and Academy Trust (OHCAT) is a family of specialist education providers for pupils and students from nursery to further education across London, Surrey, Sussex and Berkshire.

Pupils and students within the Orchard Hill family have a wide range of learning abilities and additional needs including autistic spectrum disorder; speech, language and communication difficulties; social, emotional and mental health challenges; profound and multiple disabilities; and physical disabilities including multi-sensory impairment and complex health needs.

OHCAT is made up of two separate entities:

  • The Academy Trust: home to 14 special schools.
  • The College: has grown from a small hospital provision into an Ofsted-rated ‘Outstanding’ college with eight college centres. Both entities work through a collaborative governance and leadership structure, with a ‘Family Board’ comprising all Trustees from both the College and Academy Trust Boards.


After a competitive process, Peridot were engaged to recruit six trustees across the collaborative College and Trust Board.

Orchard Hill College & Academy Trust sought a range of professional backgrounds for their new Trustees and Peridot Partners was asked to source candidates with expertise in any of:

  • Audit
  • Risk management and assurance
  • Finance and accounting
  • IT / Data
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Estates and Capital Projects

In addition to the key skills sought, Trustees also needed to have a strong commitment to the purpose of OHCAT and the time to fully commit to the role.


We undertook in-depth briefings with OHCAT’s key stakeholders, including the CEO, members of the Executive Senior Leadership Team and the Chairs of both boards. We used this information to design a bespoke digital candidate pack and role description which was shared with prospective candidates. We undertook a thorough search process against OHCAT’s brief, and, after understanding our needs and requirements, we sourced 23 high-performing applicants from a range of professional backgrounds, focusing on social and professional diversity and our brief.

OHCAT were very impressed with the calibre and quality of all applicants and shortlisted 12 individuals to take forward to interviews, which we had also designed and tailored to meet their needs. We took care of the administration, and the booking of candidates in conjunction with OHCAT’s internal HR team, arranging the interviews quickly and efficiently.

We spend time with each candidate to ensure they were fully briefed on the requirements so that they could present the best versions of themselves on the day.


We recruited 9 new Trustees with exceptional professional experience across the two Boards, including:

  • Group Chief Financial Officer of an international maintenance and manufacturing group
  • Chief Financial Officer of an international gift and experience group
  • Global Head of Technology for an international telecommunications group
  • Strategic and Operations Estates Director of a public sector body
  • Director of Estates and Facilities for a UK public sector body
  • Group Director for an international risk management consultancy
  • Director of Quality and Compliance for a large further education group
  • IT Director for an international security equipment manufacturer
  • Former Finance Director for a national chemical and sustainable technology company

“Peridot Partners managed and organised the process from start to end. They regularly kept in touch to keep us updated. Peridot Partners were personable, knowledgeable, professional, and organised. They understood what we required and ensured not only was our brief met, it was exceeded.”

Caroline Davies, Head of Governance, Orchard Hill College and Academy Trust

Eddie Caveziel Cox is Peridot’s Managing Consultant of Schools, MATs and Educational Charities Appointments. Having delivered hundreds of senior leadership and non-executive appointments into education providers, Eddie is an expert in finding leaders who make a tangible impact on communities. You can connect with him on Linkedin or send him an email to learn more.