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Chief Operating Officer Confederation of School Trusts

The Confederation of School Trusts exists to represent academy trusts and to continually enhance our education system. They are now looking for a Chief Operating Officer to develop a financial strategy and operations as they enter a new phase of development.

  • Location: Remote with regular travel to Nottingham/London
  • Salary: £80,000-£85,000
  • Closing date: 9 a.m. Tuesday 4th June

About the Confederation of School Trusts (CST)

The Confederation of School Trusts (CST) is the sector body for school trusts in England. We are dedicated to advocating for, connecting, and supporting executive and governance leaders. We are proud to represent around 75% of the academy sector in England, supporting trusts responsible for the education of more than three million young people and children. As a membership organisation, we prioritise the needs and interests of our member trusts, serving as their collective voice and championing their contributions to the education sector.

Our funding model is diverse, drawing from membership subscriptions, conferences, events, sponsorships, and partnerships.

We also operate CST Professional Development Ltd. CST Professional Development Ltd runs training, programmes and events which are aimed exclusively at trust governance as we believe the proposition of governing a trust is fundamentally different from governing a maintained school.

We can create professional development and/or services tailor-made to school trust executive teams and trust board requirements, including governance reviews.

All revenue from CST Professional Development Ltd is reinvested to fulfil CST’s charitable objectives and support our mission of aiding education leaders and institutions.

CST member benefits include access to government briefings, online leadership exchanges, professional communities, helpdesk services, exclusive guidance and research, seminars, and preferential rates on professional development and consultancy services.

About the Role

Our founding Chief Operating Officer (COO), Clare Robson-Farrelly, will be retiring in December 2024, together with our founding Chief Financial Officer, Gary Howard, who is stepping back to run his own accountancy practice full time. As an organisation, we are entering an exciting period of development amidst political change. So, we are seeking a new Chief Operating Officer with a high degree of strategic acumen to join us.

Our new COO will have a significant level of professional autonomy and be a driving force for change and improvement in our organisation alongside our executive leaders, enabling the development of a new strategic plan currently being formulated by CST. Reporting directly to Leora Cruddas CBE, our founding Chief Executive Officer, our new COO will be accountable for overseeing financial management, people and culture, business operations, digital strategy and information governance, and corporate governance.

The incoming COO will be responsible for developing the financial strategy and operations across CST and CST Professional Development Ltd, our trading arm. This will include preparing budgets, managing accounts, overseeing audits, and ensuring compliance with charity regulatory requirements, including the annual return to the Charities Commission. You will provide inspirational leadership to the finance and operations teams and grow and nurture a team in line with our demand and budget availability. You will be involved in ensuring that we have effective systems and policies in place to enhance our approach to management information reporting, and to support decision-making at leadership and Trustee Board level.

Our new COO will oversee all aspects of business operations, including contracts, insurance, and procurement, ensuring – in smooth day-to-day operations and efficient use of resources.

We are always improving our operational model, and it will be key for our new COO to work closely with our membership services to ensure that we remain efficient whilst meeting the growing need of our valued member trusts, ensuring the best value for money. To achieve this, the new COO will oversee digital strategy and information governance, leading on the development and management of CST’s digital infrastructure and information governance practices, including membership management systems.

We are a small organisation that is impactful because of our people. Our new COO will have a strategic responsibility for people and culture functions, ensuring a positive and engaging work environment. You will oversee HR functions, staff engagement initiatives, and workforce development efforts to improve the experience of our people.

This role is hybrid, though regular travel is required to our offices in Nottingham and to London.

Who We Are Looking For

Our new COO should be someone who leads with autonomy and is comfortable with a high degree of accountability. You will be the main point of contact for our corporate functions and ensure that we as an organisation are best placed to serve our members and facilitate their needs. You should come with a strategic mindset and be driven by continuous development and creating efficient, robust, and effective central services.

We are looking for someone who possesses significant expertise in financial planning and operational financial oversight, including experience in budget planning, management accounting, and audit preparation. We are open to applications from those who are qualified through experience. You will need a solid understanding of operational management principles, particularly in leading organisational change initiatives and optimising business processes for efficiency and effectiveness.

You will demonstrate proficiency in digital systems and have a proven track record of developing and implementing digital strategies to enhance organisational performance. You should be experienced in information governance practices, ensuring compliance with data protection regulations and maximising the security and integrity of digital systems.

We hope to appoint someone with a background in leading people, culture, and talent management initiatives. Our next COO should excel in fostering an inclusive and supportive work environment, promoting staff engagement and development, and aligning organisational culture with strategic objectives. Our values and ethos are very important to all at CST, and so we need our Executive Leaders to embody this.

Though not essential, experience in charity and corporate governance, including working with charitable and company boards, is desirable. The ideal candidate should have a thorough understanding of good governance principles and regulatory compliance requirements, ensuring that CST operates at the highest standards of transparency, accountability, and legal compliance.

Above all, you should come with a genuine passion for improving the academy trust system in the UK. We exist for our members, who we know do a fantastic job in making a real difference to the lives of learners across the country. We love the work that we do, and our members value the platform that we provide for them. It is key that our new COO comes with this same commitment to excellence.


Peridot Partners and Confederation of School Trusts 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(s) 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

Drew Richardson-Walsh | drew@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07739 364033

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

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Welcome from Leora Cruddas CBE

We are delighted to be recruiting to this role for the Confederation of School Trusts.

Our new Chief Operating Officer will play a pivotal role in leading the organisation through a transformative phase of growth and change.

Reporting directly to me, you will be responsible for enhancing CST’s operating model across key functions, including Finance, People and Culture, Governance and Operations.

As a member of CST’s Leadership Team, you will be responsible for the delivery of our strategy and plans and provide operational leadership.

You will operate at the highest strategic levels and shape the whole ‘engine room’ of the organisation, ensuring we have first rate financial strategy and operational systems, along with the culture and talent to underpin our vision.

We would love to hear from people in any sector, but particularly with charity or academy trust experience. Ideally you will have senior-level leadership experience delivering effective transformation in broad operational and people leadership roles, and in energising and supporting diverse teams. The right person for this role will believe passionately in our mission to build a strong and resilient trust-led system in England, and will enhance our inclusive, dynamic and collaborative culture.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Leora Cruddas CBE
Chief Executive

About the Confederation of School Trusts (CST)

The Confederation of School Trusts (CST) is the national organisation and sector body for school trusts in England advocating for, connecting and supporting executive and governance leaders.

We are a membership organisation of organisations. This means that the organisation – the trust – is the member.

We are proud to support and represent around 75% of the academy sector in England.

Our members are responsible for the education of more than three million young people and children.

CST is shaping the education policy agenda for school trusts.  Bringing together trusts in England from every region and of every size, CST has a strong, strategic presence with access to government and policy makers to drive real change for education on the big issues that matter most.

Our mission, vision and values

Our mission:

Build a strong and resilient trust-led system in England that holds trust with children.

Our values:

  • Selflessness
  • Integrity
  • Objectivity
  • Accountability
  • Openness
  • Honesty
  • Leadership

Our governance and accountability

The Confederation of School Trusts is the sector body that brings together and speaks on behalf of school trusts.

We are a charitable company, registered with the Charity Commission. Our charitable purpose, as set out in our Articles of Association is, “the advancement of education for public benefit.”

We are governed by a board of trustees and are subject to the regulations of the Charity Commission and accountable to our members.

We are strictly apolitical. We work with the government of the day, political parties and politicians across the spectrum to advance education for public benefit.

How we are funded

Like other sector bodies, income is generated via a number of different activities. These are membership subscriptions; conferences and events, including sponsorship and exhibitions; and our platinum partner programme.

Income is re-invested in the delivery of the CST’s charitable objectives.

CST’s Strategic priorities and impact

CST has a strong vision for its work and for the school trust sector, based around our three pillars of advocate, connect, and support.

Advocate: the voice of school trusts

  • An organisation that stands up for school trusts and the education sector.
  • A powerful confederation which advocates for the public benefit of education.
  • An effective voice in influencing policy.
  • Promoting and sharing the benefits of structural partnership, based on emerging evidence.

Connect: joining up leadership across the system

  • Connecting executive and governance leaders to ministers, regulators and influential policy makers.
  • Creating networks of executive and governance leaders, including peer brokerage.
  • Connecting executive and governance leaders to what they need to know.
  • Leading policy formation with and on behalf of executive and governance leaders.

Support: supporting school trusts through high quality professional services

  • Professional development designed uniquely for executive and governance leaders.
  • Bespoke in-house training designed to meet trusts’ needs.
  • Sector-led advice and guidance for executive leaders and trust boards.

You can discover more about our work in our latest annual impact report or visit our website.

Accessibility information

CST is committed to providing a supportive and equal opportunity working environment for all. It is both our desire and our duty to ensure that all staff are adequately supported to fulfil their potential, particularly those with a disability.

Further details can be found in our disability policy.

Some of our accessibility provisions include:

  • Step-free access to the building, all key meeting rooms and bathrooms, and an accessible workstation.
  • Accessibility dogs are welcome.
  • A sign language interpreter can be accessed for interviews.

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:

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

Drew Richardson-Walsh | drew@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07739 364033

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    Thank you for your interest in this role. Please download the Job Description and Person Specification.

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    Please ensure that your application is emailed to response@peridotpartners.co.uk inserting “Confederation of School Trusts – Chief Operating Officer” into the subject field. You will receive an acknowledgement on receipt of your application within 2-3 days. If you do not receive an acknowledgement, please make contact with our admin team.

    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

    Drew Richardson-Walsh | drew@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07739 364033

    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.

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

    Timetable

    Closing date: 9 a.m. Tuesday 4th June
    Candidates informed of outcome: TBC
    First stage interviews: TBC
    Second stage interviews: TBC

    We are in the process of confirming interview dates. We will update the site once confirmed and contact those who have applied.


    Equal Opportunities Monitoring

    Peridot and Confederation of School Trusts 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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