Milton Keynes, Milton Keynes (Hybrid)
£40,000 - £55,000 per year
Permanent, Full-time
Job description

Acorn Early Years is a charitable social enterprise providing childcare and early education, operating day nurseries, forest schools, out-of-school clubs, and specialist early years catering and training services.  We are an agile organisation that is growing rapidly, despite the challenges facing the sector, with just over 400 employees and an expected turnover of approximately £10m this year. We are now seeking an exceptional Chief Operating Officer or experienced Operations Manager to work directly with the CEO, board of trustees, and Senior Leadership Team to provide operational leadership.

As a key member of the senior leadership team, you will be responsible for implementing the operational strategy, overseeing day-to-day operational excellence, and further developing Acorn’s social impact and the achievement of our charitable objects. We are seeking someone with management experience of growth, and of developing systems and processes to ensure operational efficiency. In a rapidly changing sector, we need resourcefulness, adaptability, and excellent communication skills. We pride ourselves on having an ethic of care across the organisation, and strong ethical values, and are fortunate to have a strong team of dedicated, highly skilled and professional team members, both in our central support office and across the sites.

You will report directly to the CEO, and will oversee operations, including IT, and service development, ensuring that Acorn have the appropriate up to date tools and technologies. You will work closely with departmental leads, and will ensure charitable compliance, monitor performance metrics, and provide the board of trustees with management information. You will also lead the sustainability strategy and ensure that this is embedded across the organisation.

We are looking for a team player with excellent project management skills, experience of business development and systems knowledge, but also someone with a passion for social impact and ethical practices, including environmental sustainability. This is an exciting opportunity for someone to join Acorn at this period of our growth and development.

Expectations of the role

  • To provide strong leadership and management whilst overseeing the day-to-day operations of Acorn’s central support team
  • To develop strong, trusting relationships with the CEO, senior leadership team, and colleagues across the organisation, and support the CEO by providing excellent operational leadership
  • To ensure operational processes remain efficient and effective, and are suitable to support future growth
  • To ensure performance and impact is effectively monitored, and improvements are identified and sustained
  • To ensure good governance is practiced, and all operations remain compliant with relevant legislation

Role and Responsibilities

  • Collaborate with the CEO, ensuring the organisation’s strategy and budget are drafted and adhered to
  • Coordinate the effective analysis of internal operations, and use evidence to inform improvements
  • Project manage the opening of new provisions and services
  • Develop and oversee the implementation of new or reviewed processes
  • Review, update and implement policies and procedures, ensuring sufficient controls are in place
  • Oversee the effective communication of all operational policies procedures and documentation
  • Collaborate with the Facilities Manager to ensure the effective implementation of an IT strategy that will enable long-term sustainable growth and quality improvements
  • Collaborate with the CEO, to oversee the preparation of high quality business plans, annual reports, grant applications, business development applications, or any other formal documentation
  • Fulfil all statutory duties and responsibilities of the Data Protection Officer, including ensuring the organisation is compliant with data protection legislation, updating data protection processes as required, actioning data protection requests, making any statutory notifications, and responding to any data protection queries in a timely manner
  • Maintain regular and effective communication with the CEO, and communicate with the board of trustees as required

Person Specification



  • Management and operational experience
  • Budgeting, forecasting and financial reporting experience
  • Project management experience
  • Change management experience
  • Management of IT development and systems
  • Business Development
  • Effective and supportive line management
  • Process improvement


  • Experience managing quality assurance or internal audit processes or systems
  • Working in a charity/not for profit organisation
  • Working in the early years sector
  • Working as a Data Protection Officer

Skills and attributes

  • Leadership and management
  • Highly organised, with an attention to detail
  • Ability to work effectively in a team environment
  • Ability to think and act strategically
  • Ability to communicate clearly and concisely, both verbally and in witing
  • Excellent relationship building and interpersonal skills
  • Flexible to changing priorities
Refreshed on: 31 May 2022
Closed date: 01 June 2022 at 16:06
Tags: Management, Operations

The client requests no contact from agencies or media sales.