London, Greater London
£50,000 - £60,000 per year
Permanent, Part-time, 0.8 FTE for the right candidate, Full-time
Job description

The Challenge

Every day 41 of England’s most vulnerable children– equivalent to more than a full classroom of pupils – are permanently excluded, with disastrous personal and societal consequences.

These are the country’s most disadvantaged: 4 times more likely to have grown up in poverty, 7 times more likely to have special needs, 10 times more likely to have mental health problems and 20 times more likely to be interacting with social services due to safeguarding concerns. These children are at serious risk of knife crime. 

Once they are excluded, life chances are bleak. Less than 2% of excluded pupils finish school with the qualifications they need in maths and English; 50% are immediately not in education, employment or training (NEET) straight after GCSEs. This small group of pupils goes on to make up half of the prison population, and is more likely to reoffend. It is estimated that each excluded child will go on to cost the state £370,000 in extra education, health, welfare and criminal justice spending. For last year’s cohort of excluded pupils, that’s a total cost of £2.9bn to the Exchequer.

Yet too little is known about how to break this tragic cycle. While some parts of the school system have seen an evidence-led revolution, there has been insufficient research and teacher training in how to measure or move outcomes for these most complex and vulnerable pupils. This impacts teacher satisfaction. Increasing numbers are leaving the profession, disillusioned and disempowered by this lack of expertise. Meanwhile, the numbers of young people whose lives are written off through school exclusion continues to rise, year on year.


Director of Operations & Development - Priorities Ahead

The Difference are looking for a fourth member of our Executive team to achieve the following:

Support Business strategy - Work closely with the CEO and Directors to finalise and set out strategic finance aspirations and delivery plans for our 2021-25 Strategy for scaled impact.

Develop People strategy 

  • Design of hiring, contracting and work experience processes to reflect The Difference’s values and strengthen our ability to achieve our mission.  Implemented through hiring 2-3 new staff, preparing contracts for ~10 Programme and Recruitment contracted colleagues.

  • Design of new talent management strategies to gain diversity of thought and skill in our organisation.  Including developing a programme to give seasonal support work to young people 16-21 in the delivery of our conference and selection centres; and management of summer internships opportunities from sister public sector charities.

  • Design of professional development offer to make The Difference’s staff sector-leading in their increasing specialisms.  Including matching staff roles to sector-leading courses, pro bono mentors and coaches; developing performance management processes and training growing from our developing use of Objectives and Key Results; evolving organisation policies and practices to ensure staff retention, wellbeing and effectiveness.

  • Support ongoing development of organisational culture which grows the relationships, safety and belonging alongside challenge, continuous feedback and improvement.

  • Co-design, and coordinate our staff residential; away-days; and trustee residential.

  • Support CEO and Chair in the Governance strategy including recruitment, training, routines and relationships of a diverse and effective trustee board.

Lead Operations function 

  • Map reactive and proactive Operations work ahead in implementing 21-25 Strategy including in premises, IT, legal, governance and team logistics.

  • Organise and line-manage the team to deliver Operations (currently 2.2 FTE) and build pro-bono relationships as necessary to meet strategy aims including leading new Salesforce build for Programme team and Comms function.

  • Diagnosing need for and developing systems to support delivery at scale and efficiency including project management and use of IT.

  • Lead project to find and set up The Difference’s post-lockdown Premises and to develop working practices as lockdown eases which promote physical safety and wellbeing.

Develop Finance function 

  • Set strategic direction as part of our business strategy.

  • Review our internal bookkeeping/payments/accounting processes and scope a specialist hire in Finance.

  • Line-manage Development Manager (who leads fundraising) and set income generation targets for teams.

  • Develop our team budget-setting processes, spending review and financial reporting to Trustees.



The Difference Values

  • Purpose: Our work is guided and galvanised by our values and beliefs.  We are problem solvers, and do not wait to act. We are inspired by our purpose to improve life outcomes for the most vulnerable young people, and to develop the people, practice and public perception required to achieve this.

  • Collaboration: We build relationships into our work, give to others readily and use others’ strengths alongside our own, to have greater impact in our work. We are inspirers and facilitators of others; able to influence and to advocate. We see the big picture and strive for better collaboration across services.

  • Bravery: We are independent thinkers, willing to speak out, to challenge others and the status quo, where it is inconsistent with our shared aims and values.  We are able to take decisions despite ambiguity, and are resilient and persistent in the face of challenging odds.

  • Excellence: We expect the best from people and ourselves, and do not prejudge. We value quality work, tangible results, and feedback to inform continuous improvement.

  • Pragmatism: We are able to recognise current limitations and strive for improvements within and beyond them.  We are flexible in our thinking, willing to be proved wrong, and able to plan for strategic change, prioritised over shorter-term, shallow goals.

  • Humility: We are able to be challenged and to learn from experiences and interactions. We are aware and respectful of others’ dignity, insight, knowledge and agency.




Person Specification

Essential – We are looking for the following skills, aptitude and experience; though you may be stronger in some areas than others

  • Values Your experience evidences shared values with The Difference (see above) and a personal commitment to our mission to improve life outcomes for vulnerable people.

  • Leadership of self and others Evidenced capacity to proactively diagnose skills and information gaps; making use of others’ expertise to continually grow the skills of yourself and the complementary skills of members of your team, to make a success of tasks at hand and those on the horizon.

  • Business Development – Track-record in building or supporting revenue-generating enterprises.

  • Team leadership – Proven ability to manage complex work across a team to tight deadlines with quality output; and of developing coaching style and project management systems to achieve this.

  • Growing People and Team Culture – Experience in growing productive team cultures, and developing individuals’ capacity and skills with tangible results.

  • Finance Management -  Proven track-record leading Finance in an organisation, including experience setting and managing budgets, and working with accountants.

  • Operations – Experience establishing or re-designing operations functions to meet emerging and growing needs; ability to diagnose and act quickly where systems need to evolve; up-to-date knowledge of data protection and compliance for charities, or networks and ability to quickly hold this work.  

  • Proactive problem-solving – Ability to thrive in a fast-paced start-up environment, comfortable with making decisions in ambiguous contexts and rapidly diagnosing need to reprioritise and change course.  Ability to problem solve: in the micro, rolling sleeves up and diving into detail; in the macro, informing organisational strategy; and collaboratively to build capacity, supporting others’ development of problem-solving skills.

Desired – You are likely to be successful in this role if you have any one of the following additional experiences: 

  • Insight into the schools market – You may have experience working in the education sector; building businesses or charities working directly with schools.

  • Product design experience – You may have experience building business cases for new products or services to go to market and working with experts to develop these products towards the needs of customers.  

  • Early-stage social enterprise experience – You may have specific experience growing charities or businesses for social good and at early/start up phase.  

  • HR background – You may have completed CIPD courses or qualifications, specifically developing hiring practices, performance management structures, professional development and leading compliant capability and dismissal procedures.  Through prior work you may have networks which you can access to give you continuous professional development in these areas; and may have experience finding and developing pro bono relationships with expert organisations in HR and people management.

  • Legal background – You may have some legal background in drafting contracts and ensuring legal compliance. Through prior work you may have networks which you can access to give you continuous professional development in these areas; and may have experience finding and developing pro bono relationships with expert organisations in legal and compliance.

  • Accounting background – You may have completed AAT courses and a background in accountancy. Through prior work you may have networks which you can access to give you continuous professional development in this area; and may have experience finding and developing pro bono relationships with expert organisations in accountancy.



Deadline for applications: midnight of Tuesday 6th April

More about The Difference
The Difference

Our Vision

The past does not have to determine the future. The Difference is a new education charit... Read more

Refreshed on: 24 March 2021
Closed date: 06 April 2021
Tags: Operations