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Build leaders of the future - executive leadership and trustee programme

DPO events


Following the controversy of the 2016 white paper Educational Excellence Everywhere and the subsequent shelving of it in short order in October 2016, in education sector terms the policy landscape has been extremely quiet. This goes far wider than academy policy with general elections in 2015, 2017 and 2019 together with Brexit meaning there was little bandwidth for considered education policy. Of course, the pandemic has provided further disruption and changed the nature and acuteness of the challenges faced. It has also laid bare for the wider public to see what educators have long known in terms of the challenges ahead regarding levelling up and mental health (to name a few).

As we appear to be moving forward out of the pandemic there are signs that the Department will be more active on the policy front. The Department have confirmed their vision to move to a fully academized system. In May they published Building strong academy trusts Guidance alongside announcements such as “try before you buy” and stating an ambition to see “more schools in strong academy trusts and existing academy trusts becoming stronger”. At the Festival of Education in June, the Secretary of State for Education went further expressing a vision for the system of “moving over time to a fully academised model, with all schools being within a family of schools”. In June we also started to pick up noises about a new education white paper to set out in more detail about their vision and the way they will seek to deliver it.

At the same time, we have a school system that has had to cope with its most significant crisis in at least a generation – the impact of the pandemic on the operation of schools as well as the impact on young pupils and the workforce. Trust leaders have had to don their ‘superhero cloaks’ and will now be looking to find time and space to reflect on what they have learnt, how they see the future for their organisation as well as the opportunities and risks the broader landscape presents. To aid this we have created a collaborative programme to help leaders do just that.

Design principles

Our Building for the Future collaborative programme has been designed to support leaders at this important juncture with surveying the landscape and reflecting on their current strategy, how that may evolve in light of recent events and the policy move towards trust partnerships and growth.

The programme will provide you with experiential learning gained through facilitated discussions and peer collaboration. The underlying principles that have fed into its design are to provide delegates with:

  • time and space to reflect and think
  • provocation – from experienced individuals working both within and outside the education sector
  • insights based on experience to date as well as looking to the future and the “mood music” we are picking up
  • an opportunity to collaborate, share and learn with executive and non-executive colleagues across the sector.

By the end of the programme you will have had an opportunity to collaborate with other trusts and Browne Jacobson as well as learning from their experiences and those of other trusts as well as other sectors. It will provide you with a good platform from which to pause, take stock, before driving forward and building for the future at your Trust.

The programme is aimed at both executive leaders as well as trustees, so we invite each participant Trust to send both an executive leader and a trustee (perhaps the chair). The programme may be of particular interest to executive leaders and trustees that are new to the sector.

Course details

The programme will be delivered via Zoom run over three to four consecutive months. There will be three two-hour sessions (one per month). Each session will be followed by a one-hour facilitated small group discussion (there will be a choice of two dates for each of these so that we can divide the cohort into smaller groups).

This programme will cover:

Session 1: Landscape and opportunities

The programme will start with a survey of the current education landscape – both from a policy perspective and lived experience. Participants will explore opportunities for academy trusts in terms of growth and school partnerships. Participants will explore challenges and opportunities for Trusts in terms of trust growth and school partnerships. The session will also be an opportunity for the group to share and reflect on the key current and emerging strategic levers available to Trusts.

Session 2: Learning the lessons

In this session we will learn from other sectors and each other. We will be joined by our health sector experts to share insights from NHS trust mergers and consider how they might help us in the education sector as the scale of trusts has grown and we move into the second decade of conversions and transfers.

Recognising the extensive experience within the sector of conversions, transfers and mergers as well as an even greater experience of school partnerships, we will also invite participants to share their own reflections and lessons learnt. We would look to supplement this discussion by sharing our own insights and learnings from supporting clients within the education sector. We will also consider as a group what may be different as we move forward from this juncture and what new opportunities and challenges that may present.

Session 3: Enhancing your processes

For the final session we will take some time to reflect on the core processes in Trust development and school partnerships and look at how you may want to develop them to enhance your effectiveness further. Elements that will be considered include managing the Board, heads of terms or Memorandums of Understanding, due diligence, the Regional Schools Commissioner, the legal transfer process, the post-transfer implementation and change management.

The facilitated one-hour participant-led discussions will focus on:

  1. Setting your development strategy
  2. Learning from other sectors and from past experiences
  3. Effective due diligence

Click here for an example of the course programme.

Who should attend?

The programme is designed for the executive leaders and trustees of academy trusts, including CEOs, COOs, executive heads, Chairs of Boards and governors.

It may be of particular interest to executive leaders and trustees who are new to the sector.


£1,100 (+VAT) per trust for two delegates. For maximum organisational impact, we recommend that each trust registers both an executive leader and a trustee on this programme (we would however recommend consistent participants throughout the programme).

For more information please contact Nick Mackenzie.

Booking form: Building for the Future – executive leadership and trustee programme

The next Building for the Future programme will commence in January 2022. To guarantee a high-quality learning experience and maximum engagement with programme leads and peers, delegate places are limited to approximately 30 per cohort.