For January 2024, the Tarka Learning Partnership  wishes to appoint a CEO to provide the strategic leadership on primary and secondary school effectiveness and evolve the next stages of growth of this locally-based group of schools.

Tarka is an 8-school Multi-Academy Trust with responsibility for a primary SCITT centred in Barnstaple to work with other partners to develop outcomes for young people in North Devon.

Our current highly-respected CEO, Andy Cotton, is due to retire in December 2023, having led the Trust through its first 8 formative years.

We now seek an exceptional leader to evolve the Trust through its next stage of development, including managed growth from North Devon schools expressing strong interest in joining Tarka. There are currently two new schools undertaking academy conversion, with further schools expressing interest. The Trust Board wishes to grow the Trust in a measured way with particular interest in secondary.

If you have a vision centred around empowerment; of children, of staff, of communities – in the belief that aspirational education will transform lives – then we would share that inspiration.

If you would achieve this transformation through strong relationships, centred on values of Honesty, Transparency, Aspiration, Challenge, Innovation and Reflection then we would love to be led by you.

You will lead a highly capable and cohesive Trust central team of eleven who provide strategic and holistic expertise to support and challenge our schools.

Our Headteachers are passionate and collaborative in their desire to see their children, families and communities succeed. Their vision of combining the best of Primary and Secondary education and children’s transition to enable progression between settings has been at the heart of our work. We believe empowered Headteachers, able to harness and appoint their staff, their budgets and their curriculum within the individual context of their school provide the energy and drive for high standards in all aspects of children’s learning. You will have a clear understanding of the challenges of their role and a strong desire to collaborate with them to achieve the aims of the Trust.

We have a dedicated training centre and are committed to developing all our staff, but also to supporting and collaborating with other schools in North Devon. We offer a comprehensive CPD programme through Devon Primary SCITT, Devon Training Partnership and as the North Devon partner with our teaching school hub, SWIFT.

The successful candidate will:

  • have a significant and successful proven track record as a CEO, Trust leadership, executive headteacher or headteacher collaborating across a number of schools.
  • build on our strengths and direct further success through the next strategic plan for the Trust.
  • have outstanding interpersonal skills, able to establish credibility and be committed to a strong, open culture of accountability, built on trust.
  • establish strong relationships with both local and national networks to impact on the strategic direction of the Trust.
  • have the ability to lead colleagues to operationalise a vision, through a culture of high performance, across a range of both community and Church schools including those facing challenge or complex issues.
  • have a natural strategic and problem-solving ability and a desire to support and harness the expertise of staff, setting the highest standards.
  • have the creativity and vision to inspire and lead change with the personal resilience and tenacity to work through challenges.
  • have proven and strong financial acumen and understanding of school operational processes aligned to improvement planning.
  • have a flair for building effective learning communities.

The Trust offers:

  • highly motivated leaders, staff and students
  • the opportunity to construct and deliver a vision for a growing Trust
  • strong, cohesive processes and foundations in place for the next stage in the Trust’s evolution
  • a highly effective team providing strategic support, collaboration and challenge
  • generous remuneration

Appointment Process:

To arrange to have a discussion about the role or to visit the Tarka Learning Partnership, please contact Jo Down (HR Leader) in the first instance –

Please send your completed application form to

Closing date for applications: Monday 22nd May 2023 9am

Shortlisting will take place on Monday 22nd May 2023

Recruitment process to take place: 13th and 14th June 2023

A relocation contribution of up to £8k is on offer for the successful candidate relocating to the area.

If you require any assistance in attending for interview, please let us know the nature of that assistance in good time so that we may make appropriate arrangements.

Tarka values equality and diversity and is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and expects all staff and volunteers to share this commitment. Applicants will be subject to safer recruitment practices including satisfactory references and an enhanced DBS check for the appointed candidate.

See here the application documents and application form:

Welcome Letter – Chair

CEO Brochure 2023

CEO Job Description 2023

CEO Person Specification 2023

TLP Application Form January 2023