Appointment of the Director of People


Dear candidate

Thank you for your interest in joining the Harris Federation as Director of People.

The Harris Federation is an education charity led and run by teachers.  The founder, Chairman and sponsor of the Harris Federation, Lord Harris of Peckham, opened our first school in 1990. There are now 50 Harris primary and secondary academies in London and Essex, as well as a teaching school alliance that trains thousands of teachers every year.

We have, over the past thirty years, implemented ideas and initiatives that have transformed the opportunities of pupils from working class and disadvantaged backgrounds.  Harris academies are widely recognised as a force for social mobility.  We are immensely proud of the role that our alumni are now beginning to play in the world and of what we believe our current generation of pupils will go on to achieve.

We have created the brand new position of Director of People, and we are interested to hear from experienced and accomplished HR professionals who understand the importance of education and developing talent. The position requires an individual who can both work strategically and take a hands-on, practical and action-oriented approach. Based in our East Croydon head office, you will work closely with fellow Directors and the wider management team to develop our people strategy, promote our values, and help shape our culture.

Our people are at the heart of our success, so the new Director of People position is central to the ongoing success of the Federation and, in turn, the success of thousands of children and young people.

You can find out more about the Harris Federation and the Director of People role on this website. Our advising consultants at Anderson Quigley would be delighted to discuss the role with you – their details can also be found on this site.

The Harris Federation changes lives – I do hope that you will consider joining us in this important leadership role.


Yours sincerely

Sir Daniel Moynihan
Chief Executive

About us

About us

The Harris Federation is the leading large multi-academy trust in England for primary and secondary education. Working in areas of high deprivation, our Academies are making a huge difference to the life chances of many thousands of young people in London.

Closing the gap between young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and their peers has always been a core mission of Harris. Holding a reputation for bringing transformative approaches to education, we hold an unrivalled track record in achieving success through rapid school improvement.

With 50 Academies in and around London, almost 5,000 staff and 38,000 students, we are a successful and thriving organisation. We look for talented individuals who share our vision for creating exceptional places of learning and are committed to ensuring that every child in London has access to the best possible education.

Our role

The Harris Federation is responsible for the education of one in 40 of school children in London.

With the majority of our academies located in areas of high socioeconomic disadvantage, a high-quality education is key to the futures of the pupils we serve.

We are a Federation rather than a chain and the autonomy of our Principals and governing bodies is at the heart of our success. But our vision, from the start, has been to provide the structure and services needed for our schools to amount to more than the sum of their parts, and to free-up our teachers and leaders to focus on one thing and one thing only: the outstanding education of all their pupils.

From our HQ in East Croydon, we have expert, hands-on teams in finance, estates, IT, HR and recruitment, legal, marketing and, most importantly, educational improvement services.  Our central team includes around 60 highly skilled teachers, available to our academies as a resource to use as they need.

Harris academies are funded on the same basis as other state schools in England, but by negotiating shared contracts and services and delivering other economies of scale our academies currently save £5 million per year, all of which goes back into the education of pupils.

You can read more about the Harris Federation here and more about our academies here.

About our culture

Our people are at the heart of our success. We have developed a strong culture of collaboration and best practice, with professional development and career planning at its centre. We invest in our staff with support, coaching, mentoring, and a wide range of top-quality training programmes delivered at every level from Beginner Teachers to Executive Leaders.

We now have 50 academies in London educating some 38,000 young people. All our academy locations are within a commutable distance of each other, giving our staff access to a close supportive and collaborative network of senior leaders, mentors and specialists.

Structure chart

The role

Director of People

Job reference:

Core Purpose of the Director of People

Reporting to the Chief Executive, the Director of People will be accountable for the design, development and effective implementation of all workforce, education, training and organisational development strategies.

Main areas of responsibility

As our new Director of People, you will keep our people focused, productive and engaged so that the Federation can continue to grow, to upskill staff, attract top talent, and further develop its inclusive culture. The post holder will be responsible for the design, development and effective implementation of all workforce, education, training and organisational development strategies. As our Director of People you will be expected to:

  • Develop, implement and oversee a Federation wide Human Resource Strategy consistent with best practice and implement HR initiatives in-line with the Federation’s objectives.
  • Lead the Federation’s HR department, learning and development, employee engagement, compensation and benefits, talent management, HR information systems (HRIS) and department financial planning.
  • Monitor and develop the Federation’s equalities policy and practice as it relates to staff.
  • Ensure effective processes are in place to enable change management processes and restructurings.
  • Establish and maintain appropriate HR policies and conditions of service and working practices, monitoring adherence and effectiveness.
  • Oversee a rapid programme of opening Academies and TUPE projects from an HR perspective, including Trade Union consultation.
  • Manage the provision of appropriate management information reports for HR data to all levels of management.
  • Ensure the provision of a high quality Occupational Health Service.
  • Liaise closely with the Principals on safeguarding issues to ensure, as a minimum, compliance with the legislative framework and guidance around safer recruitment and keeping abreast of developments in this area.
  • Support senior colleagues in determining and delivering the vision and strategic goals of the Federation.
  • Oversee and manage our contract with the external payroll provider, EPM.
  • Represent the Federation externally in areas agreed by the CEO.

Key accountabilities and responsibilities

  • Ensure that staff in the HR Department are recruited, managed, appraised and developed, and that effective arrangements are made for the training and development of all staff within the department, so as to meet service needs and to provide equality of opportunity for all employees.
  • Personally lead on the resolution of complex, sensitive or high impact HR matters.
  • Act as the key lead to ensure all HR policies and procedures are up to date in terms of best practice and legislative changes.
  • Develop a reward and remuneration strategy to ensure the Federation is competitive in attracting and retaining staff and aligned to the market and wider industry where possible.
  • Produce appropriate reports for the CEO, Board, Governing body and senior managers relating to HR matters.
  • Present timely and relevant advice and information to the Federation, to ensure that the CEO is briefed on major and sensitive issues and to deal promptly with other matters requiring the postholder’s personal attention, including undertaking special projects.
  • Liaise with other departments (e.g. Finance, IT, Compliance, Health & Safety) to ensure accurate and effective flow of data between teams.
  • Respond to relevant consultations or requests for assistance from external agencies and raise the profile of the Federation.
  • Undertake other duties commensurate with the post as may reasonably be required by the CEO.

Continuous professional development, learning and innovation

  • Drive continuous improvement in performance through people and organisational development.
  • Lead the development and implementation of a learning and development strategy, ensuring that staff have the resources to be able to contribute to change and innovation in the organisation.
  • Lead on board level and senior management engagement and support to enable staff to innovate and improve.
  • Advise and support the board with oversight for staff development in respect of training requirements.
  • Lead on development in performance metrics and operational improvement processes to continuously improve staff development.
  • Lead on the development of organisational workforce planning processes.

People Leadership/ development

  • Oversee the professional development and training needs of staff with budget and in line with training plans and the appraisal process.
  • Manage and support all stakeholders, ensuring effective resource deployment leading to improved operational outcomes.
  • Lead on annual appraisals for the HR Business Partners and wider HR team.
  • Champion the business case for learning and development ensuring the organisation has the right capability for future growth.
  • Act as a role model for people leadership and development across the Federation.
  • Advise Directors and stakeholders across the Federation on the appropriate approach to preventing and managing conflict.

Employee engagement

  • Lead on the employee engagement strategy to deliver a strong and effective partnership between the Federation, Academies and its employees.
  • Support an internal communication strategy and to drive improved employee communications.
  • Drive programmes to support line managers to be effective managers of people and performance.
  • Develop strategies to drive wellbeing initiatives and safety culture as part of our cultural change.
  • Develop and implement a line manager development strategy to emphasise workforce engagement and the ability to address staff concerns.

Skills and Attributes

Leadership skills – the ability to lead and manage people to work towards common goals.

The Director of People should be able to use appropriate leadership styles in different situations to:

  • Create a secure commitment to a clear vision for the Federation
  • Initiate and manage change and improvement in pursuit of strategic objectives
  • Prioritise, plan and organise
  • Direct and coordinate the work of others
  • Build, support and work with high-performing teams
  • Work as part of a management team
  • Devolve responsibilities, delegate tasks and monitor practice to see that they are being carried out
  • Deal sensitively with people and resolve conflict.

The Director of People should have the professional competence and expertise to:

  • Command credibility through the discharge of their functions and to influence others
  • Provide professional direction to the work of others
  • Make informed use of inspection and research findings
  • Apply good practice from other sectors and organisations.

Decision making skills: the ability to investigate, solve problems and make decisions. The Director of People should:

  • Make decisions based upon analysis, interpretation and understanding of relevant data and information
  • Think creatively and imaginatively to anticipate and solve problems and identify opportunities
  • Demonstrate good judgment.

Communication skills: the ability to make points clearly and understand the views of others. The Director of People should:

  • Communicate effectively orally and in writing to a range of audiences
  • Negotiate and consult effectively
  • Manage good communication systems
  • Chair meetings effectively
  • Develop, maintain and use an effective network of contacts.

Self-management skills: the ability to plan time effectively. The Director or People should:

  • Prioritise and manage time effectively
  • Work under pressure and to deadlines
  • Achieve challenging professional goals
  • Take responsibility for own professional development.


  • Personal impact and presence
  • Adaptability to change in circumstances and to new ideas
  • Energy, vigour and perseverance
  • Dedication, hard work and commitment
  • Reliability and integrity




  • Educated to degree level – preferably in a relevant subject or equivalent post graduate qualification, or equivalent senior level experience
  • Chartered member of CIPD
  • Evidence of continuing professional development
  • Relevant leadership and management qualification (desirable)
  • Postgraduate qualification in Organisational Development practice or equivalent experience (desirable).


  • Previous experience of working within a unionised environment and engaging in union consultation and negotiations
  • Application of best practice in recruitment, training, and L&D
  • Excellent knowledge of all HR functions relevant to a multi-site, multi-disciplinary organisation delivering complex services within financial constraints and under significant scrutiny
  • A track record of leading change and organisational development, engaging line managers and staff across a large scale organisation
  • Extensive experience of the management of complex and sensitive employee relations issues
  • Demonstrable success at a senior level in HR policy and practice
  • Experience of HR systems and their strategic importance to effective delivery of HR strategy
  • Design or implementation of information sharing, knowledge management systems, monitoring and evaluation
  • HR Director level experience (desirable)
  • Experience of working within a complex, multi-professional education and training establishment (desirable)
  • Track record as a member of the senior management team of a non-profit or public sector organisation (desirable)
  • Experience of leading an HRIS implementation programme (desirable).

Knowledge, skills and abilities

  • Expert knowledge of current HR and OD issues and awareness of broader developments in the field
  • Well-developed consultancy and organisational diagnostic skills with the ability to translate strategic issues into HR interventions and solutions to meet business needs
  • Current knowledge of HR, Health & Safety & Equality legislation and best practice
  • Up to date knowledge of EDI, wellbeing and engagement requirements and practices
  • Ability to coach colleagues effectively and to empower and enable them to undertake their professional roles
  • Excellent communication skills including report writing and presentation skills
  • Proactive, strategic thinker with sound judgement
  • Solution-oriented, flexible and collaborative
  • Knowledge of the Education sector and legislation (desirable)
  • Knowledge of HR systems and technology, and an awareness of technological advances and the potential impacts on people and staffing (desirable).

Quality issues

  • Demonstrable knowledge and understanding of equality issues and legislation
  • Able to integrate quality policies into service delivery and employment practices.

Other requirements

  • Ability to work under pressure and be resilient in the face of challenge
  • Ability to prioritise
  • Experience of working as part of a Federated or similar structure of associated schools (desirable).

Terms of appointment

Salary will be up to £115,000 based on experience and expertise.

Benefits include a performance bonus, private medical insurance and a broad benefits package including relocation allowance where necessary

How to apply

Anderson Quigley is acting as an employment advisor to the Harris Federation. An executive search process is being carried out by Anderson Quigley in addition to the public advertisement.

Should you wish to discuss either of these roles in strict confidence, please contact our advising consultants at Anderson Quigley: Elliott Rae on +44 (0)7584 078 534 or Elyse Turner-Pearce on +44(0)7808 648 559.

The closing date for applications is noon on Monday 8th February 2021.

Applications should consist of:

  • A full CV including your educational and professional qualifications, full employment history, latest remuneration, details of relevant achievements and contact details.
  • A covering letter stating how you meet the criteria in the Person Specification and outlining your motivation for applying for this role. Your covering letter should be a maximum of two sides of A4.
  • Details of two referees, though please note that we will not approach your referees without your prior consent and only should you be shortlisted.
  • Please complete the following online Equal Opportunity Monitoring Form.

Completed applications should be uploaded at using the reference AQ1051.


Closing date: noon on Monday 8th February
Longlisting: Wednesday 24th February
Preliminary Interviews with AQ: w/c 1st March
Shortlisting: Friday 12th March
Final Panel Interviews: Afternoon of Tuesday 23rd March