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Chief Operating Officer | Whitefield Academy Trust

Join an internationally renowned specialist education provider offering support for children with a wide range of special educational needs and disabilities from across London. They now seek a Chief Operating Officer to provide high-level strategic input to take this ambitious Trust to the next stage in its journey. With the support of an expertly qualified and dynamic CEO you will manage all the Trust’s corporate services and business operations.

  • Location: Walthamstow, North East London
  • Salary: £90,000

About the role

As one of the largest and most successful specialist Multi-Academy Trusts in Europe, the Whitefield Academy Trust is outward facing and has an ambition to leverage its knowledge of SEN education and innovation in the sector to support policy both in the UK and abroad. As such, they are at an important stage where it is necessary to appoint a Chief Operating Officer (COO) who can balance the strategic financial oversight of the Trust with the ambition for planned growth.

The Trust is known for its excellence and has always been at the forefront of special needs education. The Trust provides education for 450 children and young people, all with Education and Health Care Plans (EHCP), aged from 3 to 19 years. Due to this reputation, the Trust’s schools are the first choice for many local families because of the high-level education, services and support they provide.

The Trust has grown through the addition of Joseph Clarke School and has the ambition and support from stakeholders to develop its capacity further, to help alleviate the annual waiting list for places and share its model of best practice. More than delivering classroom-based education alone, the Trust plays a crucial role in the development of academic research and innovation, teacher education and staff development, and community-based services and partnerships. It truly is an exceptional organisation working to transform the lives of early years’ children through to young adults.

The recently appointed CEO, Kirstie Fulthorpe, is a strategic educationalist with substantial experience of SEN school-based leadership, high-quality school improvement, partnership work, and diverse income generation. The COO will support her in leading an experienced executive team overseeing all aspects of financial management and business service functions.

Who we are looking for

We are seeking a professionally qualified, strategic leader of operations and finance, with demonstrable experience of leading HR, IT, estates, and compliance. Your experience of an acquisition and/or merger with other MATs/schools would be hugely beneficial, as would experience of developing strategic partnerships with key stakeholders. This opportunity offers strategic input as well as “hands on” involvement in the day-to-day operations of the schools.

Specifics of the role include:

  • The ability to take the strategic overview, plan creatively and successfully within a dynamic and constrained financial landscape to deliver seamless operations that maximise learning, welfare and experience for the children, young people and the adults that we educate and support;
  • A track record of driving efficient service and achieving greater economies of scale, we would like you to use this experience and knowledge to make improvements for our Trust. We would benefit from a COO who has experience of enabling change management supported by strong communication and influencing skills.

You will be familiar with reporting to Trust Boards, providing relevant data and confident in presenting strategic plans and forecasts, and experienced in building highly effective internal and external business relationships at all levels. This will be combined with an empathy for the Trust’s Vision and Ethos and the special community it serves. You will need to be resilient and able to handle a diverse and complex workload whilst maintaining a positive approach.

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

Drew Richardson-Walsh | drew@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07739 364 033

Sally Lawson-Ritchie | sally@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07904 158 737

Phil Southern | phil@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07702 678 653

Closing date: 12pm, Monday 30th November 2020

Whitefield Academy Trust is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and expect all staff and volunteers to share this commitment and undergo appropriate checks.

If you would like to know more about this role please contact Sally Lawson-Ritchie

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Welcome from the CEO, Kirstie Fulthorpe

Dear Candidate,

I would like to thank you for your interest in the role of Chief Operating Officer for Whitefield Academy Trust. As the new Chief Executive, working with the senior team, I have been able to look at the organisation through a fresh lens. This has led to the creation of the Chief Operating Officer (COO) role.

The COO will play a key part in future developments, making us as efficient and dynamic as possible. As well as establishing the right structures and processes to do this, our COO will drive plans to expand, and influence world class education for children and young people with special needs and disabilities.

The Trust has always been at the forefront of special needs education. It currently provides education for 450 children and young people, all with Education and Health Care Plans (EHCP) and aged from 3 to 19 years.

Pupils are educated at either Joseph Clarke or Whitefield Schools. Whitefield School was rated Outstanding by Ofsted in 2017. Joseph Clarke school was rated Good by Ofsted in February 2017. Our schools are the first choice for many local families and, as a result, we have long waiting lists so would like to expand our reach.

We also offer very well-established teacher training through our Research and Professional Development Centre. This ensures our pedagogy and practice is both well-informed and shared across the education sector more widely. We currently provide professional development on behalf of the Department for Education, Waltham Forest and several other local authorities. We also provide a range of accredited undergraduate courses on behalf of several London universities.

Since 2013, the Trust has also run Project SEARCH in partnership with Barts Health NHS Trust. Project SEARCH’s training and job placements offer an unparalleled success rate for young adults with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) – with over 70% of students moving into full-time employment. This is significantly above the national average and just one aspect we are immensely proud of.

We have huge energy across the Trust to ensure our children and young people are successful and well-prepared for adult life. If you share the Trust’s commitment to enable ‘enjoyment, achievement and wellbeing for all‘ we would be pleased to hear from you.

Please take your time to read through the information available here, and should you have any questions please contact our consultants at Peridot Partners.

Yours faithfully,

Kirstie Fulthorpe

Whitefield Academy Trust

Whitefield Academy Trust is one of the largest providers of special education in Europe, with an international reputation for expertise, curriculum and training. The Whitefield Schools are rated as Outstanding in all areas by Ofsted and is a National Teaching School, and Joseph Clarke School is quickly moving towards Outstanding.

The Trust strives to help young people find their place in society and to help the wider community understand the needs of people with SEN.

There are four schools within the Trust, each providing excellence in teaching and learning for a specific group of children:

Margaret Brearley School

For pupils aged 3-19 years old with complex needs including learning difficulties, physical impairment and sensory impairment.

Joseph Clarke School

For pupils aged 3-19 with visual impairments and complex needs.

Peter Turner Primary School

For pupils aged 3-11 years old with autism or speech and communication difficulties.

Niels Chapman Secondary School

For pupils aged 11-19 years old with communication or interaction difficulties or have hearing loss.

An Introduction to Whitefield Academy Trust

Research and Development Centre

The Whitefield Research and Development Centre leads initial teacher training within the Teaching School Alliance, runs courses in SEN up to Masters level and leads training for SENCOs and middle leaders in special schools. The Centre works in partnership with universities including Greenwich, Kingston and UCL.

In addition to the Research & Development Centre, the Trust has two outreach teams that offer practical advice and support to mainstream schools. These are presently:

Vision Impairment – The Joseph Clarke Educational Service

Established for over 30 years, the Joseph Clarke Educational Service supports children with vision impairment, their families and schools.  From ICT and Mobility to Braille and general advice, the Service operates across Waltham Forest, Redbridge, Barking & Dagenham and Enfield.

SEN and Hearing Impairment – Whitefield Outreach

Whitefield Outreach supports mainstream schools looking to help their pupils who have communication and interaction difficulties, hearing impairment or learning difficulties and developmental delay. The team is made up from teachers of the deaf, SEN outreach teachers and a hearing impairment technician all of whom offer advice, support and training within the London Borough of Waltham Forest.

Values and Ethos

The Trust’s mission statement ‘enjoyment, achievement and wellbeing for all’ underpins every activity within the schools. There is a strong commitment to creating outstanding learning communities. Professionals and parents support each other to gain the best possible outcomes for children and young people in their care. The trust embeds consistent values across the schools where each person:

  • feels safe, secure and valued;
  • can be themselves and accepted for who they are;
  • is supported in achieving their full potential;
  • develops confidence and the ability to express themselves.

The Whitefield Academy Trust is unquestionably committed to the personal development of both children and employees. Through their ground-breaking employability programme, ‘Project Search’, they aim to deliver the best employment options for young adults with learning disabilities and autistic spectrum conditions. The programme continues to grow in success through the development of supported internships and work placements.

For the Trust’s employees, professional development is a supported expectation of the organisation. New teachers joining the Trust undertake the Advanced Diploma in SEN, with a strong impulse for them to further their educational attainment through completion of a Masters degree. At present, all middle leaders are MA educated and regularly undertake research with all learning being absorbed back into the Trust and across the sector.

    To access a full job description and application details,
    please fill out the form below.


    Thank you for your interest in this role.

    Please download the Role Description and Person Specification and fill out the Equality Monitoring Form

    If you would like to have an informal conversation about the role you can contact our advising consultants at Peridot Partners:

    Drew Richardson-Walsh | drew@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07739 364 033

    Sally Lawson-Ritchie | sally@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07904 158 737

    Phil Southern | phil@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07702 678 653

    To apply: Please submit a CV and supporting statement (maximum two sides of A4) that clearly outlines your suitability for the role against the criteria provided in the person specification. Please include your interest and motivation in applying for this position. Please also complete this equality monitoring form.

    Please ensure that your application and Equality Monitoring Form is emailed to response@peridotpartners.co.uk inserting “COO, Whitefield Academy Trust” into the subject field.

    Disabled applicants 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 job, or if any adjustments or support are required regarding the recruitment process.

    We wish to encourage applications regardless of race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marital or civil partner status, pregnancy or maternity, age or religion or belief.

    All applications will be considered solely on merit.


    Closing date for applications: 12pm, Monday 30th November 2020
    Shortlisting: Friday 4th December
    Interviews: Monday 14th December

    Equal Opportunities Monitoring

    Peridot and Whitefield 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 would therefore be most grateful if you would complete this equality monitoring form.

    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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