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Chair of Trustees Advantage Schools

Are you a seasoned leader with a passion for education who can lead the Board of Advantage Schools as they enter a new phase of development?

  • Location: Bedfordshire
  • Salary: Reasonable expenses paid

Who we are

Advantage Schools is an ambitious school trust (also known as a multi-academy trust) determined to play a key role in the emerging school trust landscape. Ahead of significant consolidation of school trusts in the coming years, the CEO, executive team and Trustees are determined that the strong performance and purposeful direction of Advantage Schools will be a part of the future landscape.

Dr Ian Campbell OBE has led the Trust as Chair for a successful four years which has seen the Trust grow from 2 to 5 schools.

The Trust now looks to appoint an experienced strategic leader as Chair of the Trust Board to succeed Dr Campbell. The successful candidate will lead an expert Board and provide support, challenge and coaching to the Trust’s CEO. They will act as both a non-executive leader and an external ambassador, working to raise the profile of the Trust amongst stakeholders.

The performance of Advantage Schools is very good, as are the finances. Because of this, the Trust is ideally positioned for further growth and the Chair will foster the ambition of the organisation and support the CEO and Board through this period of expansion.

The Trust requires a Chair who is innovative, enthusiastic and professional and able to command the respect of peers and the confidence of future partners.

About the role

At Advantage Schools, we are looking for a Chair to lead our team of high-performing Trustees. Ideally, our next Chair should come with experience in leading a large and complex business or charitable organisation, which is comparable in size and scale and employs a large and diverse staff team. We welcome a Chair who is willing to share their business acumen and apply it to our trust context. As a publicly funded organisation that ensures a valuable return on public funds entrusted to us, it is very important to us that the next Chair brings experience in financial planning and can demonstrate financial literacy at an appropriate level.

Our next Chair will be a lead ambassador for Advantage Schools, working closely with our CEO to manage stakeholder relationships with other local and national education providers, with the Department for Education, and with funders and local authorities. Our Chair will have the necessary time and capacity in order to be an effective outward-facing representative of Advantage Schools in the face of an evolving sector and amidst current political uncertainty. With that in mind, if the person appointed comes with limited experience in the school system, a willingness and ability to learn and become educated is crucial.

At Advantage Schools, we are undergoing significant organisational development and hence the person appointed should bring relevant insight from leading merger and acquisition processes and demonstrate an understanding of financial probity and risk, ideally from a multi-site corporation.

Advantage Schools is committed to providing excellent education for the academic and social benefit of all of our learners. We welcome candidates from all professional backgrounds to apply to be our next Chair, though the person must appoint shares our perspective of being the best possible provider of education for our pupils and their families. Advantage Schools has an opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of underprivileged learners across Bedford, Central Bedfordshire and Luton, and we are proud to provide opportunities through education to everyone who comes through one of our schools.

The Chair will lead our board meetings which take place seven times per academic year, ensuring discussions that are had and decisions which are made uphold the Seven Principles of Public Life. The Chair is expected to read and analyse all board papers in advance of the meetings and ensure, outside of scheduled or formal meetings, to foster a positive working relationship with our CEO. It is expected that the person appointed should be willing to devote up to 2-3 days per month to the role, though this will be flexible throughout the year.

Peridot Partners and Advantage Schools are, together, committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and our client expects all staff and volunteers to share this commitment. The successful candidate will be subject to an enhanced DBS check and satisfactory references before any final offer can be made.

For further information about the role, or to arrange a confidential discussion, please contact our advising consultants at Peridot Partners:

Eddie Caviezel Cox | eddiec@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07951 920768

If you would like to know more about this role please contact Eddie Caviezel Cox

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Dear Prospective Chair,

Thank you for your interest in joining Advantage Schools.

I joined Advantage Schools in September 2017 because I found a group of determined Directors/ Trustees who agreed with me that schools and the school system in England can be much better.

I have been given the opportunity, support and challenge with a healthy dose of direction to build and develop a team that is showing how much better schools can be.

My background is as a Maths teacher and secondary headteacher. I have a capable executive team who are experts in their fields. But that did not prepare me for running a company and a charity. I have valued the tremendous expertise of a smart and skilled board with diverse views absolutely committed to improving the life chances and the provision for our families in this area.

Over the past few months, we have had a number of schools and organisations contact us with a view to joining us. We think we run some of the best schools in the area, so are duty-bound to welcome more schools into our family so that more pupils

and their families can benefit from what we offer. Growing from a small to medium-sized organisation, with the challenges of scalability, whilst ensuring we keep our commitment and provision to our existing families is a significant challenge for us all.

My team and I value close working relationships with all of the Trustees. I would value someone who can work with me with expert guidance and support, whilst helping me to assess risks and is ‘on the ground’ with us in areas of governance. There is tremendous potential at Advantage Schools, and the right chair will help me to unleash that potential, truly setting an example for the school system.

Should you be looking for a non-executive voluntary opportunity that can have a significant impact locally and across the sector, I’d be delighted to meet you.

Whilst this is not my appointment, I am excited about the next steps and remain humble about the amount that I have to learn from and with the successful candidate.

I look forward to meeting you soon.

Stuart Lock
Chief Executive Officer

About Advantage Schools

We believe that, given the right circumstances, all children are capable of extraordinary things.


Advantage Schools was created in Bedford, an area that has had historically poor academic performance in both primary and secondary phases. Families in and around Bedford and Central Bedfordshire deserve better, and hence Advantage Schools exists to ‘run a family of phenomenal schools’. In practice, this means schools with very strong standards of discipline, respect for truth and subject-specificity, an entitlement of all young people to be inducted into the traditional academic disciplines, and the development of young people who are equipped to make a difference. Advantage Schools invests its resources in ensuring that all young people access this entitlement. We make no exceptions to our high aspirations.

Trust overview:

Advantage Schools operates five schools in Bedford and Central Bedfordshire. These schools are:

  • Bedford Free School (secondary)
  • Elstow School (primary)
  • Houstone School (secondary)
  • Laburnum School (primary)
  • Queen’s Park Academy (primary)

Advantage Schools has a number of merger or acquisition opportunities, the two of which are very likely to be the immediate focus of the new Chair:

  • Approved free school bid.
  • A very significant merger process is in progress.

Purpose and mission:

Advantage Schools exists to ensure that young people become educated such that they may contribute to humanity’s intellectual growth and have the opportunity to shape the future.

We believe in:

  • The pursuit of truth is noble and just.
  • All individuals can become educated.
  • Schools should make no exceptions in their high aspirations.

The pursuit of truth:

  • We prioritise subjects and content as distinctive enquiries into truth.
  • Pupils acknowledge their teachers as a source of truth.
  • Our curriculum is under constant renewal as we understand that our disciplines evolve.
  • We stand for ‘freedom of discussion, unity in action’ in pursuit of better standards.

Being educated:

  • We use research to ensure that the curriculum and pedagogy are effective.
  • Our teachers use time efficiently to ensure that pupils remember what is taught.
  • Our pupils acquire substantive knowledge to engage in the subject, and disciplinary knowledge so that they can understand and even further the pursuit of truth within the subject as experts.
  • Our pupils know that they can be more knowledgeable than previous generations.
  • Pupils understand the standards of good public decorum to which civilised people adhere and wish to both promote and embody these standards.

Characteristics of our schools and trust:

  • Lesson time is optimised for learning – pupils spend as much time as possible attending to the planned content.
  • The high quality of education is illustrated in a variety of ways that include strong examination results.
  • A curriculum with traditional subjects.
  • Teachers teach in lessons designed so that pupils remember.
  • Adults have authority but are not authoritarian.
  • Notably calm classrooms, corridors and communal spaces.
  • Staff development is a high priority – we believe great colleagues are ‘made, not born’.
  • Polite, respectful discourse with each other and visitors is notable.
  • Ineffective but fashionable practice is eschewed.
  • Genuine feedback at all levels ensures that accurate news ‘travels upwards’.
  • Resources are prioritised on what we value.
  • We employ those that accomplish significant high-quality work in the time available.
  • We don’t seek artificial consensus but encourage professional debate.
  • Schools operate in the best interests of the pupils, even when this creates debate with families.

No exceptions:

  • Advantage Schools provide calm places of learning for all to succeed.
  • We recognise and promote civil behaviour.
  • We are intolerant of uncivil behaviour.
  • We do not accept deprivation as a reason for failing to become educated – we ensure that all pupils, regardless of background, meet the highest possible standards.
  • Our leaders take responsibility for providing an environment with high expectations of civil conduct.
  • We ‘reach more than we teach’ contributing to the wider body of schools locally, nationally and internationally.

As a growing trust that prioritises providing a transformational education for the children and young people in our care, we are looking for great people with the knowledge and skills to support us in achieving this aim.

Our values are aspiration, honesty and respect, and we are creating a broader family of exceptional schools, within which pupils are empowered and supported to achieve extraordinary outcomes. Our pupils will leave our schools prepared for a fulfilling life, including the opportunity to go to a great university and pursue the career of their choice.

We achieve our goals through the recruitment and retention of the best colleagues and school leaders, developing talent through sector-leading professional learning. We foster collaborative work, both across our trust and our extensive network of professional contacts in order to ensure our staff are able to learn from and contribute significantly to the wider educational system.

We believe great staff make a great school, so we look after our colleagues well. We value hard work, but we do all we can to identify and eliminate unnecessary workloads that could result in burnout. In return, we ask that our staff share our three key expectations.

Commit to very high expectations of our pupils

We believe all our pupils are entitled to a broad, balanced academic curriculum. We don’t make assumptions, excuses or lower the bar.

Leaders who take responsibility

Our leaders ensure that learning is desirable, demanded and achievable in our schools. Behaviour in our schools is managed by systems that everyone follows and leaders prioritise. Leaders are highly visible and look after their staff.

Employ people who do their job, and do it well

We value colleagues highly but we do not tolerate underperformance. We have professional candour and we support our colleagues to get better.

Accessibility information

Advantage Schools is committed to ensuring that applicants with disabilities or impairments receive equal opportunities and treatment. If you have a disability or impairment and would like Advantage Schools to make adjustments or arrangements to assist if you are called for an interview, please state the arrangements you require.

We offer the following amenities:

  • Step-free access to the building, all key meeting rooms and bathrooms, and an accessible workstation.
  • Accessibility dogs are welcome.
  • Papers and materials can be presented in different formats.
  • A sign language interpreter can be accessed for interviews.
  • Working patterns and locations can be adjusted.

Applicants with a disability are invited to contact us in confidence at any point during the recruitment process to discuss steps that could be taken to overcome operational difficulties presented by the role, or if any adjustments or support are required regarding the recruitment process.

For further information about the role, or to arrange a confidential discussion, please contact our advising consultants at Peridot Partners:

Eddie Caviezel Cox | eddiec@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07951 920768

    To access a full job description and application details,
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    Thank you for your interest in this role. Please download the Role Description and Person Specification.

    To formally apply, please submit a CV and supporting statement (ideally maximum 2 sides of A4 each) that clearly outlines your suitability for the role against the criteria provided in the person specification, including your interest and motivation in applying for this position.

    Please ensure that your application is emailed to response@peridotpartners.co.uk inserting “Advantage Schools – Chair of Trustees” into the subject field.

    For further information about the role, or to arrange a confidential discussion, please contact our advising consultants at Peridot Partners:

    Eddie Caviezel Cox | eddiec@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07951 920768

    As a sector-leading executive search consultancy, we know the importance of creating recruitment processes which are fair, inclusive and free from bias. We are committed to promoting equality and diversity and developing a process that values differences.

    If you have a disability that meets the definition set out in the Equality Act 2010, and you can show that you meet the ‘essential’ criteria described in the person specification, please let us know.

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    Recruitment selection processes are based on evidence of competence stated in the person specification and in relation to our values.


    Closing date: 9 a.m. Tuesday 2nd April 2024
    Candidates informed of outcome: Monday 8th April 2024
    Interviews: Friday 18th April 2024

    Equal Opportunities Monitoring

    Peridot and Advantage Schools are committed to promoting equality and diversity. To help us raise awareness and support a culture that is diverse and recognises and develops the potential of all, we need to appreciate the profile of candidates who apply for positions. We will send you an equality monitoring survey at the point of receiving your application, in the interview phase and at the time of placement. This ensures that our processes remain inclusive and equitable throughout, and provides us with important data to help us showcase our impact. The information will be treated confidentially and anonymously and will help us to support our commitment to fair recruitment practices. All information provided will be held in the strictest confidence and will not be shared with anyone, in line with the Data Protection Act 2018. The information provided does not form part of the decision-making process and will not affect your application.

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