Become an OLA Governor/Trustee

Our Board, made up of Members and Trustees, is an integral part of our organisation, holding the Executive Team to account and ensuring best practice in terms of compliance and governance. 

Our Governors are highly-valued local experts and ambassadors for our schools.


Become an OLA Trustee

Being a Trustee for the Orchard Learning Alliance is a rewarding experience where you can make a real difference to the lives of children and the people in your community.

The Trustee role is the equivalent of a non-executive director of a company: as a volunteer, you will be making strategic decisions and scrutinising reports and data to hold the Trust’s leaders to account and ensure that they are meeting their objectives in running the Trust effectively.

Trustee FAQ

  • Number of meetings: you will be on the full Trust Board, which has 6 meetings per year plus an Away Day; and one committee, which will have between 3-6 meetings per year depending on business.
  • Length of meetings: meetings are usually in the evenings and will take between 1 to 2 hours.  Preparation is key – if papers are read and commented on in advance, this makes the decision-making process at the actual meetings much more efficient.
  • Papers: there may be several papers to read for the meeting, which are made available along with the agenda and the previous meeting’s minutes 7 days before the meeting takes place.
  • Training: there will be some training to be done throughout the year – induction for new starters, plus the statutory Safeguarding training and other training courses as and when.  All training will be free to Trustees.
  • Term of office: Trustees usually serve 4 years in office.  Your term can be extended by vote of the Trust Board, to serve another 4-year term.  You could agree at the time of your appointment to serve for less, if that would work with your commitments.

OLA Trust Board meetings are in person with a hybrid option, and all committee meetings are online only unless an in-person meeting is deemed necessary by the Chair.

Trustees and governors are volunteers and are not paid for their services to the community.  Certain expenses can be paid, for example mileage incurred on Trust business.

You will receive a login to Governor’s Virtual Office (GVO), which is an online cloud-based system which provides meeting packs including agendas, previous minutes and papers which can either be downloaded or viewed online.  GVO’s functionality includes a calendar, document viewing and download, commenting on documents, discussion zones, and online approval of documents. The use of GVO keeps confidential documents secure and facilitates good governance, such as meeting attendance and up-to-date register of interests.

The operational running of the OLA is done by the executive team (CEO, CFO, School Support Partners, etc), and they make operational decisions based on the strategic direction set by Trustees.

The Trust is the legal entity with the board having collective accountability and responsibility for the Trust and assuring itself that there is compliance with regulatory, contractual, and statutory requirements.

Trustees have three core functions:

  • Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
  • Holding executive leaders to account for the educational performance of the organisation and its pupils, and the performance management of staff
  • Overseeing the financial performance of the organisation and making sure its money is well spent.

Trustees also have strategic oversight of relationships with stakeholders. The board involves parents, schools and communities so that decision-making is supported by meaningful engagement.

In recent years, as per the Academy Trust Handbook 2023, recruitment of Trustees has moved away from a stakeholder representation model to a skills-based model.  The OLA carries out annual skills reporting and self-evaluation to identify any skills gaps, and recruits Trustees accordingly.  We welcome Trustees from all walks of life, as we would like the Trust Board to represent the diversity of stakeholders and communities within our schools as broadly and fairly as possible.

Trustees are expected to make decisions based on what is best for the Trust, without a private or hidden agenda.  For example, a Trustee whose spouse provided grounds maintenance for schools within the Trust would need to declare this as a conflict of interest, and not take part in discussions and votes around grounds maintenance so as to avoid biased decisions being made that might result in misappropriation of public funds.

Trustees are expected to follow the Nolan Principles, also called the Principles of Public Life.  These are:

  • Selflessness
  • Integrity
  • Objectivity
  • Accountability
  • Openness
  • Honesty
  • Leadership

Yes. They must comply with the trust’s charitable objects, with company and charity law, and with their contractual obligations under the funding agreement. Company directors’ duties are described in sections 170 to 181 of the Companies Act 2006. Charity trustees’ duties are described in the Charity Commission’s The Essential Trustee Guidance.

Become an OLA Member

If you are community-spirited but don't have much time, then you might consider applying to become a Member of the Trust. 
Members are often described as the guardians of governance, in terms of being informed about the Trust's performance and holding Trustees accountable.

If you'd like more information about the role of a Member, please visit the National Governance Association website or view the information poster below.

Member Information Poster

Expression of Interest

If you'd like to express your interest in becoming a Trustee or a Member and have an informal chat, please use the expression of interest form below.

Interest in Trustee role

Interest in Member role