School Trust CEOs
Start Date:
September 2024
Programme Length:
12 months + 3 month aftercare
Fully funded
  • Overview
  • Curriculum
  • Delivery
  • Who is it for?
  • The programme
  • Time commitment
  • Location
  • Assessment
  • Cost
  • How to apply and selection process


Half of the pupils in England (54%) are educated in a trust. The DfE has identified that "the best trusts are successful in large part because of the leadership and systems which the most effective Chief Executive Officers bring to their trusts, supported by effective oversight from trust boards (including chairs) and excellent central teams."

The CEO role is vital in both leading and shaping the education system. It is complex, demanding, highly influential, and nuanced. It is community-shaped and community-shaping, as well as subject to national and international influences. It is also relatively new in comparison to other roles in the sector.

With this challenge in mind, we have created a programme for new and current CEOs of large trusts to enable them to thrive in this rewarding and vital role.

Our approach reflects the complexity of the role; the local, the national, the internal focus on standards, and the external focus on the role schools play in the lives of their children, families, and neighbourhoods.


The programme aims to:

  • Build the next generation of CEOs and system architects;
  • Provide the knowledge, insight and practice to ensure CEOs can run successful, sustainable, thriving trusts that develop as anchor institutions in their communities;
  • Build a powerful diverse network that colleagues can utilise in the future for the benefit of their own trusts and in shaping the system;  and
  • Nurture the talents of the most senior leaders in our system to lead and grow large multi academy trusts especially in areas where they are needed most.


Through a hybrid learning approach, the programme will support participants (known in the context of this programme as School Trust CEO Fellows) in preparing for all these dimensions:.

  • Self-study, including podcasts, will cover both the concrete knowledge of the CEO and involve discussions with successful CEOs to explore the nuance of the role.
  • Executive coaching will support the navigation of the unique complexities of a school trust.
  • Immersive learning experiences in successful trusts will prepare the Fellows to navigate three complex and yet frequently occurring challenges faced by school trust CEOs.
  • Fellows will build up a mentoring relationship with successful CEOs, further supporting participant learning.
  • Fellows will also benefit from international expertise to help inform and shape the school system of the future.

Who is it for?

The School Trust CEO Programme will support new CEOs who have an appetite for development and a commitment to the system. It will prepare them to support more schools, accelerating change to ensure no child or community is left behind.

Fellows must have:

  • Significant leadership experience across a large number of schools
  • Sustained exposure to the CEO role if they are not a CEO already
  • System leadership experience, including working beyond their own organisation.

The programme

This fully-funded development programme will provide tailored immersion opportunities to work alongside some of England’s leading trust CEOs, access to expert coaching, live conferences and self-studies. It will support the Fellows to excel in their role as CEO, consider potential for growth, and develop their role as a system architect.

Coaching: Fellows will be supported by an executive coach, on a one-to-one basis. The work of a CEO is a people business. How CEOs help senior leaders to thrive, drive change, and adopt practices to ensure they can lead 'smart and healthy' organizations is of vital importance. It's also context and people-specific; coaching from outstanding executive coaches will support the Fellows to develop these skills.

Immersion: Fellows will engage in tailored immersive experiences alongside a leading trust CEO. The three immersion opportunities cover some of the biggest questions that face CEOs and trusts, including the approach and implications of trust operating models, communications within and beyond the trust (including the community locally and nationally, local and national government), and how to achieve high standards for all pupils and the levers for this.

Self-study: The self-study element of the programme is meticulously crafted to cover all aspects of the trust CEO framework, equipping the Fellows with a comprehensive understanding that will be further enriched through immersion activities and coaching sessions. This component is especially valuable as it showcases real-world applications of this knowledge, featuring authentic examples from high-performing trusts and invaluable insights from current and former CEOs of trusts.

Live conferences: Four conferences across the programme will feature thought leaders and expert contributors from the UK and beyond who will deepen understanding of the programme's content even further. Each conference is designed to reflect core elements of the framework, thereby making explicit connections between theoretical knowledge and practical applications. They will also serve to build a successful and supportive peer group and widen the perspectives of the Fellows developing their role as system architects.

Time commitment

The full programme includes:

  • 1hr virtual induction session
  • 4 x 2-day in-person conferences (overnight stay)
  • 3 immersion experiences lasting 5 days each
  • Up to 18 hours of self-study.


In person conferences will be held in Birmingham.


Fellows will be assessed via:

  • Short presentations, based on the immersion experience, presented to the host CEO
  • Presentations (4) to the Fellows’ senior teams, summarising learning from sessions and identifying implications for their trusts.

These assessments are valuable for participant learning but also for applying the learning from the programme in their day-to-day work.


The programme is fully-funded by the Department for Education

How to apply and selection process

We are recruiting for 50 School Trust CEO Fellows for our second cohort, which begins in September 2024. 

Applicants will undertake a two-stage selection process. Stage 1 is an online application form and Stage 2 involves attendance at a face to face selection half day.

For more information about the programme, or to request an application form, please email or register your interest via our contact form.

Contact us

Please get in touch to find out more about our programmes and find out where we are delivering them near you.

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