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Chief Operating Officer (Estates, Infrastructure, Projects & Risk) Orchard Hill College & Academy Trust

Join the executive team of Orchard Hill College & Academy Trust as their next Chief Operating Officer, and lead estates, infrastructure services, and capital planning which supports the development of special education and inclusion strategies which transform lives.

  • Location: Multiple locations across London, Surrey, Sussex, and Berkshire
  • Salary: c.£100,000 plus generous pension
  • Closing date: CLOSED FOR APPLICATIONS

Who we are

At Orchard Hill College & Academy Trust (OHC&AT), we are a family of specialist education providers from preschool through to further education based across London, Surrey, Sussex and Berkshire and we fully represent all designations of special education needs and disabilities (SEND).

Working together to transform lives is what we do and, across the whole organisation, we have a range of experts and practitioners who advocate for children and young people with SEND to ensure they receive the best possible opportunities to achieve their full potential.

Since the College was established in 1983 it has grown from a small hospital provision into an Ofsted-rated ‘outstanding’ college that operates from eight college centres and provides post-16 education for students with moderate, complex, and profound learning needs.

In 2013, the College established the Academy Trust to share its expertise and provide services and support to specialist schools. Orchard Hill College Academy Trust is now home to 14 special schools, and we have two live Free School projects in progress with projected opening dates ranging from 2024 to 2026.

Orchard Hill College and Academy Trust is a large and complex organisation with a turnover of around £100m. We exist to support, enable, and champion the talents, skills and rights of the most complex and vulnerable people in our society in order that we can release their potential, promote their wellbeing and transform their lives.

As an organisation, we adhere to the seven principles of public life to drive our behaviours and provide a framework for our actions. These are leadership, openness, objectivity, selflessness, honesty, integrity, and accountability. Within this framework, we have defined our own set of core values and behaviours:

Confident
Respectful
Equitable
Advocacy
Team working
Enabling

As a community of learners, families, and colleagues our ethos is that by working collaboratively, with energy and ambition we can always effect positive change. At the core of our ethos is the conviction that there should be no limit placed on what is possible and that everyone has the ability to be the very best they can be.

About the role

Reporting to our CEO, John Prior, and as part of the Executive Senior Leadership Team, our Chief Operating Officer will hold strategic responsibility for a number of core infrastructure service areas alongside being accountable for broader remits including capital/project and programme management, business continuity planning, enterprise risk management, and health and safety.

This is a busy strategic leadership role requiring the person appointed to manage various competing priorities at any one time. As well as your role inside the organisation, you will also have a key role in stakeholder engagement and management, regularly acting on behalf of OHC&AT with funders, local authorities, and other major partners.

What we offer to children and young people at OHC&AT is in demand. We have a significant number of multi-million-pound projects live at any one time, alongside annual maintenance schedules – all needing to be delivered on time and to budget to ensure our pupils and students have access to the learning spaces and support services they need and deserve.

We have a broad mix of estate; ranging in condition from state-of-the-art and new, to that which will require investment in the medium-to-long term. We invest heavily in IT and digital systems to realise both efficiencies for business services and learning and assistive technology advancements. Knowing how to intertwine both future estate and digital infrastructure planning, whilst realising value for money from outsourced services, will be essential.

Working with your ESLT colleagues you will lead and oversee a range of planning and programme management activities, always

with an eye on opportunities which become available to us and the associated risks and benefits of these. You will act as OHC&AT’s strategic advisor, reporting to the ESLT and the Trustee Board, on risk management, health and safety. Due to the breadth and range of activities we regularly work through – linked with the responsibilities of this post – it is essential that both the ESLT and Trustee Board are kept informed of planning, progress, policy, and risk, through regular reporting to the Trustee Board, its committees, and through regular discussions with Trustees linked with your areas of scope.

Whilst a busy role, which will demand outside office hours at times, to get the job done well, we believe the person appointed as our Chief Operating Officer will feel a great sense of personal satisfaction and pride from the impact you will have. By joining our ESLT you will form part of a values-led, visible, and inspirational leadership team – who truly go the extra mile to achieve what is required for the benefit of our children, young people, employees and stakeholders.

Who we are looking for

Professionally qualified and significantly experienced in one or more areas of responsibility associated with the post, we need our Chief Operating Officer to have operated at a strategic level in a similarly complex organisation.

More than senior leadership experience alone, we welcome your experience of being the executive sponsor of transformational change programmes and significant infrastructure projects which have complemented your employer’s proposition and strategy. Areas in which you may have realised substantial progress include but are not limited to, estates, facilities, project management, IT and infrastructure services. Across one or more of these areas, you will have a keenness to evidence value for money and a social return on investment for the significant public funds with which you will be entrusted. Through your experience in leading areas within the scope of this role, we expect you to know, and regularly keep apprised of, statutory responsibilities in order to keep us safe and informed of our duties.

A visionary leader, able to contribute to and lead long-term planning, you will have experience in using information, data and reports to influence how we plan and what we plan for. You will also be a team leader, happy and willing to support and develop those around you to achieve the high standards we set in a high-performance culture.

We welcome interest from experienced directors of infrastructure, risk, and project management, who have the experience combined with the capability to help us keep up with the pace of change we have become accustomed to and help us to continue to lead change well.

We support thousands of children with complex needs each year. They, and their families or support networks, depend on us and we welcome that responsibility. It is therefore of the utmost importance that you too recognise how this Chief Operating Officer role, with you in post, can have a profound impact on how we operate as a growing and successful SEND organisation – at the cutting edge of advancement in special education and able to influence national policy.

Prior experience working in a similar education environment is not essential, but a willingness to understand your duties and responsibilities to learn most certainly is.


Peridot Partners and Orchard Hill College & Academy Trust 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 message from the CEO, John Prior

Dear Candidates,

Thank you for your interest in the position of Chief Operating Officer at Orchard Hill College and Academy Trust (OHC&AT).

Orchard Hill College (the College) and Orchard Hill College Academy Trust (the Trust) together form Orchard Hill College and Academy Trust (OHC&AT), 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 OHC&AT family have a wide range of learning abilities and additional needs including complex autism; speech, language and communication difficulties; social, emotional and mental health; and physical disabilities including multi-sensory impairment and complex health needs.

Working together to transform lives is what we do and across the whole organisation, we have a range of experts and practitioners who advocate for children and young people with SEND to ensure they receive the best possible opportunities to achieve their full potential.

In this role of Chief Operating Officer, and within this information you are reading, you will recognise an opportunity to influence significant change, growth, and development of our very special organisation. On joining the Executive Senior Leadership Team, you will also recognise that we have an unwavering commitment to the work that we do and a deep commitment to the outcomes we deliver for children, young people, and their families. The pace of our development can often feel extraordinary, though we remain connected to one another and work collectively to deliver on our increasingly ambitious plans.

We do hope that you find the information here interesting and insightful, and if you do possess the necessary skills, knowledge, experience, and energy, then we very much encourage you to contact our advising consultants at Peridot Partners to find out more.

Yours sincerely,

John Prior

CEO of Orchard Hill College & Academy Trust


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

Accessibility information

Orchard Hill College and Academy Trust (OHC&AT) is committed to providing outstanding educational opportunities for all our pupils, students and apprentices.

OHC&AT is a ‘family’ of providers, comprising Orchard Hill College (OHC) and Orchard Hill College Academy Trust (OHCAT), which works for mutual benefit.

OHC&AT is proud of its diverse community of pupils/students, apprentices, staff and stakeholders and is committed to maintaining excellence in teaching and learning by ensuring there is equality of opportunity for all, fostered in an environment of mutual respect and dignity.

Equality means ensuring everyone can participate in all our activities. Diversity acknowledges there are differences between people, which should be recognised, respected and celebrated. Inclusion means everyone feels enabled to participate fully in the life of the OHC&AT community and is valued for the contributions that they make.

OHC&AT celebrates our organisational diversity. We embed a culture where all can contribute and be themselves. As a public body, we strive to be an exemplar to others. We value and welcome the different ideas, skills, behaviours and experiences of all. We aim to foster a culture that promotes well-being and mental health and provides support to enable everyone within our community to thrive. As an employer and provider of education, we are committed to meeting our legal obligations and promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in both our work and our workforce.

We recognise that we need staff from diverse backgrounds to help ensure we make sound decisions that are representative of different perspectives within society. We seek to positively influence the approach of the staff and pupils/students/apprentices we work with to promote diversity and inclusion. We believe that a diverse workforce can help us to do that much more effectively.

Some examples of our accessibility provisions include (please remove any that are not applicable to your role): Yes to all

  • Step-free access to the building, all key meeting rooms and bathrooms, and an accessible workstation.
  • Accessibility dogs are welcome.
  • Interviews can be held in meeting rooms that support hearing loops.
  • 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.

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

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    Thank you for your interest in this role. Please download the Job 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 “Orchard Hill College & Academy Trust – Chief Operating Officer” 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

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

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    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.

    Timetable

    Closing date: 12 p.m. Friday 12th January 2024
    Candidates informed of outcome: 5 p.m. on Thursday 18th January 2024
    Interviews: Monday 22nd January 2024


    Equal Opportunities Monitoring

    Peridot and Orchard Hill College & Academy Trust 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 practice. All information provided will be held in the strictest confidence and will not be shared with anyone, in line with the new Data Protection Act 2018 launched on 25 May 2018. The information provided does not form part of the decision-making process and will not affect your application.


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