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Director of Education The English-Speaking Union

ESU, a global organisation fostering oracy skills, seeks a visionary Director of Education to shape a 5-year strategy to create lifelong learning opportunities.

  • Location: Hybrid (3 days in the Central London office each week)
  • Salary: £75,000 - £80,000 depending on experience

Who we are

The English-Speaking Union of the Commonwealth (ESU) stands as a distinguished membership organisation with a profound charitable purpose. Founded in 1918 by journalist Sir Evelyn Wrench, ESU has been dedicated to promoting the development of speaking and listening (oracy) skills among children and young people.

Governed by a Royal Charter granted by Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1957, the organisation operates internationally, boasting a network of 54 national ESUs, each functioning autonomously within their jurisdictions. The Princess Royal serves as the esteemed President, and the ESU’s international headquarters, located at Dartmouth House in Mayfair, is a notable hub for fostering global connections.

At the heart of ESU’s mission is its commitment to providing high-quality oracy education opportunities. The Education Department collaborates with over 600 schools annually, focusing on ensuring that schools in disadvantaged areas have access to enriching educational experiences. The organisation’s extensive portfolio includes national competitions in debating, public speaking, and Shakespeare, along with in-school workshops, international initiatives, and residential programmes such as the Debate Academy.

About the role

The role of Director of Education at the English-Speaking Union (ESU) is a leadership position of paramount importance as the organisation embarks on an exciting phase of development with the launch of a new 5-year strategy.

Reporting directly to the Director-General/Chief Executive Officer, the successful candidate will be at the forefront of shaping the strategic direction of ESU’s educational programmes.

This senior leadership role, part of the senior leadership team, carries the responsibility of overseeing the organisation’s educational initiatives across the UK and internationally, with a special emphasis on advancing ESU’s digital delivery methods.

The Director of Education will play a pivotal role in developing and implementing the 5-year education strategy aligned with the corporate strategy.

This involves cultivating beneficial relationships with partner organisations that share compatible values with ESU.

The Director will contribute to budget preparation, ensuring the department’s performance aligns with targets, and expand ESU’s influence in informal education settings.

Leading a team and reporting to the Education Committee and ESU Board, the successful candidate will act as a key member of the ESU safeguarding team, actively contributing to the organisation’s commitment to providing a safe and enriching learning environment.

This role presents an opportunity for an experienced senior leader to drive innovation, launch new educational products, and contribute significantly to ESU’s mission of creating lifelong learning opportunities for articulate and active citizens.

Who we are looking for

ESU is actively seeking an exceptional senior leader with a rich background in the education or not-for-profit sectors to fill the role of Director of Education.

The ideal candidate will possess a deep understanding of the education system in England and Wales, demonstrating a track record of successful leadership and management.

The role demands proven experience in delivering impactful educational programs internationally, along with the ability to navigate diverse income streams, including product development, grants, and sponsorships.

Key attributes for the successful candidate include outstanding interpersonal skills, experience in networking at all levels, and a knack for building successful partnerships with sponsors, donors, government bodies, and both commercial and charitable organisations.

The role necessitates a high degree of commercial awareness and business acumen, coupled with the ability to manage conflicting priorities effectively. Experience in product development and sales, as well as a passion for cultivating relationships within the education sector, is crucial.

ESU envisions the Director of Education to be a dynamic individual who can lead a diverse team, contribute to the organisation’s strategic vision, and play a crucial role in shaping the future of education at ESU during this transformative period.

Peridot Partners and The English Speaking Union 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:

Katy Lennon | katy@peridotpartners.co.uk

Paloma Zamora | paloma@peridotpartners.co.uk

If you would like to know more about this role please contact Katy Lennon

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About ESU

Welcome to the heart of global oracy education and cultural exchange – the English-Speaking Union (ESU).

Founded in 1918 by journalist Sir Evelyn Wrench in the aftermath of the First World War, ESU stands as a beacon for promoting dialogue, respect, and articulate communication in an interconnected world. Governed by a Royal Charter since 1957, ESU has evolved into a dynamic international organisation with a network of 54 national ESUs, united by a common dedication to the English language.

ESU’s legacy is woven into the fabric of history, championing the English language as a catalyst for global understanding.

Dartmouth House, our Grade II* Listed headquarters in Mayfair, serves not only as a testament to tradition but also as a vibrant hub for weddings, private events, and corporate activities. The Princess Royal, our esteemed President, embodies our commitment to fostering cultural exchange and friendship through the English language.

At ESU, our mission is clear – to create lifelong opportunities for individuals to fulfil their potential as articulate and active citizens. We envision a world where oracy education is not just valued but celebrated, contributing to both individual success and societal cohesion. Led by Miles Young, our esteemed Chair, ESU holds a unique position in a world grappling with adversities. As the global lingua franca, the English language serves as our bridge to connect people, ideas, and cultures.

Explore the rich history, global impact, and future aspirations of the English-Speaking Union. Join us on a journey where language becomes a force for positive change.

ESU’s focus on oracy education is unparalleled. We annually engage with over 600 schools, impacting the lives of more than one million young people in 50 countries.

Our dedication goes beyond national borders, ensuring that schools, especially those in disadvantaged areas, have access to high-quality oracy education opportunities. By developing speaking and listening skills, we empower individuals to navigate the complexities of the modern world.

ESU is not just an organisation; it’s a lifelong community. Our vibrant domestic and international membership network is the cornerstone of our charitable work, fostering connections that last a lifetime.

As we launch a new 5-year strategy, ESU invites visionary leaders to join us in shaping the future of oracy education globally. This is an opportunity to be part of an organisation that values tradition while embracing the present, where your contribution can make a lasting impact.

Explore the rich history, global impact, and future aspirations of the English-Speaking Union. Join us on a journey where language becomes a force for positive change.

Accessibility information

We understand that different members of the community have different access needs and have made some modifications to the way we do business to accommodate people from diverse communities and abilities. We offer the following amenities:

  • Accessibility dogs are welcome.
  • Papers and materials can be presented in different formats.
  • 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:

Katy Lennon | katy@peridotpartners.co.uk

Paloma Zamora | paloma@peridotpartners.co.uk

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    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 “The English Speaking Union – Director of Education” into the subject field.

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

    Katy Lennon | katy@peridotpartners.co.uk

    Paloma Zamora | paloma@peridotpartners.co.uk

    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. Monday 12th February 2024
    Candidates informed of outcome: Monday 18th February 2024
    First stage interviews: Wednesday 20th February 2024 (online)
    Second stage interviews: Tuesday 27th February 2024 (in person)

    Equal Opportunities Monitoring

    Peridot and The English Speaking Union 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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