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Chief Operating Officer | Whitefield Academy Trust

Situated in east London, Whitefield Academy Trust comprises of a number of exceptional special schools and provides education training and development to the sector more widely. We are seeking an experienced, ambitious and dynamic leader with a demonstrable track record of education business development to become our Chief Operating Officer (COO).

  • Location: Walthamstow, North East London
  • Salary: Salary in the region of £100,000 - more for exceptional experience. Benefits include access to Local Government Pension Scheme and professional development opportunities

About Whitefield Academy Trust

Situated in east London, Whitefield Academy Trust comprises of a number of exceptional special schools and provides education training and development to the sector more widely. With an ethos based on enjoyment, achievement and wellbeing for all, Whitefield Academy Trust seeks to open up the world for children and young people with even the most complex of needs. We have an international reputation as experts in special needs education.

Across our schools, we aim to do the very best for the children in our care and give them the skills, confidence and belief they need to succeed in adult life. We are relentless in our commitment to delivering high standards of teaching and pastoral care and strive at all times to accurately meet the needs of each individual child.

Joseph Clarke School is a highly specialist school for blind and visually impaired children and young people. Whitefield School is a close-knit group of small special schools providing early years, primary, secondary and Post 16 education. Together we seek to educate, inspire and challenge children – whatever their ability. Both schools are the first choice for many families from across north and east London and we have an excellent relationship with our host borough Waltham Forest.

Our Professional Development Centre is based on the Whitefield School site. The Centre which includes a Teaching School, is at the forefront of the education sector providing a wide range of outstanding teacher training and outreach services on behalf of the Department for Education and several London local authorities. It also provides a range of accredited undergraduate courses on behalf of two London universities.

Our successful Project SEARCH internship programme run in partnership with Barts Health NHS Trust provides real world job experience, support for the interns to find full-paid work and subsequent support for both ex-students and employers once they are in work.

As well as nurturing our pupils, we place a strong emphasis on the wellbeing and professional development of our staff. As such, many of our staff choose to remain at the Trust for their whole career providing stability and the opportunity to build long-lasting and strong relationships with our pupils, their families and our wider community.

Based on our success, we are ambitious to grow and extend our reach to benefit more children and young people with special needs, and their teachers.

About the role

We are seeking an experienced, ambitious and dynamic leader with a demonstrable track record of education business development to become our Chief Operating Officer (COO) and help us realise our growth and development ambitions.

The COO will be a key member of the Executive Team and would deputise for the Chief Executive where appropriate. This is a strategic role which provides the opportunity to work closely with and alongside the Chief Executive and Heads of schools and departments, realising our ambitions and supporting the day to day operations of our schools and services.

A strong track record of delivering high performing operations for education services, including finance, property and estates is taken as a given. Supplementing this with experience of expanding or setting up new schools and/or merger with other MATs/schools would be hugely beneficial, as would experience of developing education training and consultancy for a teaching school and/or other provider.

Who we are looking for

We would benefit from a COO who has experience of enabling and delivering change management in the education sector, supported by strong communication and influencing skills as well as:

  • The ability to take the strategic overview, plan creatively and successfully within a dynamic and constrained financial landscape;
  • Delivering projects and business development supported by seamless operations to maximise learning, welfare and experience for the children, young people and the adults that we educate and support;
  • A track record of driving efficient services and achieving greater economies of scale;
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills;
  • The ability to develop and implement strategies for premises management to ensure that the quality of the estate and the learning environment for students is improved, sustainable and maintained.

We would like you to use this experience and knowledge to further develop and improve our Trust. You will also 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:

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

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

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

Closing date: 12pm, Monday 1st February 2021

Whitefield Academy Trust is uncompromising in its commitment to safeguarding children and young people.

If you would like to know more about this role please contact Phil Southern

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Welcome from the CEO, Kirstie Fulthorpe, and Chair of the Board of Directors, Andrew Howat

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

Andrew Howat
Chair of the Board of Directors

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’.

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.

Outreach Service

Known for its innovation in research and staff training and development, Whitefield’s Outreach Service supports pupils with hearing impairment, autism, learning difficulties and complex needs in schools and early learning settings across the local authority. It strives to help their cohort to find their place in society and to help the wider community understand the needs of people with SEN.

The schools are located in Walthamstow in the London Borough of Waltham Forest. It is well served by trains on the London Underground, Overground and National Rail Networks. Several arterial road routes link the area to other areas in London and the East of England. Historically an ancient parish in the county of Essex, the influential textile designer and craftsman William Morris was born here in 1834 and his home is now the William Morris Gallery. In more recent times the post code E17 was made infamous by the global success of local boy band East 17. The town has become increasingly popular to live in as a result of recent gentrification and being considered trendy and hipster. The leafy Walthamstow village is particularly popular with its specialist shops, pubs and restaurants.

An Introduction to Whitefield Academy Trust

Research and Development Centre

Adding value to the Trust and the sector through the development of specialist services.

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.

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

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    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 1st February 2021
    Candidates informed of outcome: 5pm, Wednesday 3rd February 2021
    Interviews: Monday 8th February 2021

    Equal Opportunities Monitoring

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