Release date: 27/11/2021

To provide a starting point for trust boards in setting out the role and responsibilities of the trust’s chief executive officer (CEO), the National Governance Association (NGA) and Forum Strategy have collaborated to produce a template CEO job description.

Combining several years of thought leadership and research by both Forum Strategy and NGA, the template aims to capture a role that has evolved with the emergence of the multi academy trust (MAT) system. As the CEO role is approached in many ways across the sector, this document provides a clear foundation to set the expectations of the role, based on the well-established ‘Being the CEO’ framework that has already helped to guide the role for many boards and CEOs over the last three years.

The job description, reflecting the framework, sets out how CEOs should lead in six areas. These are that the CEO:

  1. Develops a leadership narrative that articulates the board’s vision and values in practice; and shapes the organisation’s ongoing development
  2. Builds an open, transparent and effective relationship with the governing board and its committees
  3. Ensures that the organisation is an ‘employer of choice’ and is staffed by talented and skilled individuals at all levels
  4. Enables improvement and disciplined innovation as an organisational habit
  5. Secures organisational sustainability and compliance
  6. Building external relationships: fostering social and professional capital

Responsibilities of the CEO role include delivering the agreed strategy; overseeing all operations of the trust – including enabling educational and organisational improvement at scale; ensuring sustainability, compliance, and the mitigation of risk; and building strategic partnerships with a range of stakeholders to ensure both strong educational outcomes for pupils and the sustainable development of the trust.

Michael Pain, founder of Forum Strategy said: "The publication of a template job description for the trust CEO role provides the system – and particularly boards – with another source of information on how they shape and develop the role for their own context. I am pleased that this template job description – endorsed and distributed by the National Governance Association – builds on my many years of work developing the highly-respected ‘Being The CEO’ framework and Forum Strategy’s strong track record of working with and providing professional development for trust CEOs. The National Governance Association sets a high bar for the quality of resources it shares with its members, and I hope that trustees, CEOs and educationalists across the country find it to be a helpful starting point."

Sam Henson, director of policy and information at the National Governance Association said: "By definition, the CEO is the most senior employee in the organisation, but many trusts have already found that this is the role that is most difficult to define. It is a role that has evolved significantly during the last decade and NGA is really pleased to have collaborated with Forum Strategy, building on our collective experience to deliver this crucial tool for MAT trustees as they define the role of the CEO in their trust. Given the variety of approaches to the MAT CEO role out there, this template will provide an emphasis on the core considerations for the role and act as a clear starting point anchored in a wealth of insight and experience from the last decade."

View the template CEO job description 

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