The Robert Owen Society is a registered Industrial and Provident Society and an Exempt Charity. It was formed in the early stages of our co-operative journey to drive forward projects in its own right and to co-ordinate the work of the Robert Owen Group as new ad hoc community organisations develop. The affairs of the Society are managed by a Board of Directors who are elected annually at the Annual General Meeting. Members of the Society hold a £1 share. Every three years the Society elects a President for a three year term to carry out certain key roles. The Society also key officers who are:

Chair – one year term
Vice Chair – one year term
Secretary – one year term
Finance Director- one year term
President – three year term

The Board is currently engaged in planning for succession and is seeking to improve the diversity of the Board. Applications from the wider community and especially under represented groups are welcome.

The Robert Owen Society – Role of Non Executive Director (NED)

To contribute to the governance work of the Board of the Robert Owen Society in ensuring high standards of achievement for all areas of by:

  • ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction 
  • holding leaders to account for the performance of the Robert Owen Society
  • the performance management of staff
  • overseeing the financial performance of the organisation and making sure its money is well spent achieving maximum impact and return
  • upholding Co-operative Values and Principles
  • observing the Nolan Principles of Public Life

The role of NED is largely a thinking and questioning role, but may also be a “doing role.”

As individuals become more experienced as a NED, there are other roles they could volunteer for which would increase your degree of involvement and level of responsibility (e.g. as a chair of a committee).

This role description does not cover the additional roles taken on by the chair, vice-chair and chairs of committees.

In order to perform this role well, a NED is expected to:

  • get to know the organisation, including visiting when activities are taking place
  • gaining a good understanding of the organisations strengths and weaknesses
  • attend induction training and regular relevant training and development events
  • attend meetings (full Board and committee meetings) both face to face and remotely
  • reading all the papers before the meeting
  • act in the best interests of all the organisation
  • behave in a professional manner, including acting in strict confidence
  • exercise a duty of care towards the health and safety of employees and members of the public affected by the organisations activities, ensuring effective risk management processes are in place


As part of the Board of Directors, a non executive director is expected to contribute to the strategic discussions which determine:

  • the vision and ethos of the Robert Owen Society
  • clear and ambitious strategic priorities and targets for the organisation
  • access to a broad and balanced range of activities
  • the organisation’s budget
  • staffing structure and key staffing policies
  • the principles to be used by leaders to set other policies


Hold leaders to account by monitoring performance; this includes

  • agreeing the outcomes from self-evaluation activities and ensuring they are used to inform the organisation’s priorities
  • considering all relevant data and feedback provided leaders and external sources on all aspects of performance
  • asking challenging questions of leaders
  • ensuring leaders have arranged for the required audits to be carried out and receiving the results of those audits
  • ensuring leaders have developed the required policies and procedures and the organisation is operating effectively according to those policies
  • acting as a link NED on a specific issue, making relevant enquiries of the relevant staff, and reporting to the Board on the progress on the relevant priorities
  • listening to and reporting to stakeholders: users, employers and the wider community


Ensure the organisation has the resources and support required

  • to be able meet the vision, ethos and strategic direction of the organisation
  • obtain the necessary expertise on business management, external advice
  • ensure effective appraisal and Continuing Professional Development
  • provide suitable premises
  • monitor the way in which those resources are used has impact.

Person specification:

Individuals are sought who have a strong empathy with our mission to develop experience, skills, and expertise in Co-operation in the community as well as an interest in community development and education and training, combined with an in-depth understanding of our work and ambitions.

The Board of Directors of the Robert Owen Society are jointly and severally responsible for the overall governance and strategic direction of the organisation, its financial health, the probity of its activities and developing the organisation’s aims, objectives and goals in accordance with the governing documents, legal and regulatory guidelines.

All directors, should also be aware of, and understand, their individual and collective responsibilities, and should not be overly reliant on one or more individual directors in any particular aspect of the governance of the Society.


  • Successful experience of operating within a board in a co-operative, charitable, community, public sector or commercial organisation focussed on education and the development of people and businesses in the Marches sub region
  • Demonstrable experience of building and sustaining relationships with key stakeholders and colleagues to achieve organisational objectives in the Marches sub region
  • Success in developing strategic and operational partnerships with statutory bodies including local authorities, government departments and agencies
  • A proven track record of sound judgement and effective decision making
  • A history of impartiality, fairness and the ability to respect confidences
  • An awareness of potential current and future conflicts of interest
  • A track record of commitment to promoting equality and diversity

Knowledge, skills and understanding:

  • A full understanding of the theory and application of Co-operative Values and Principles
  • Commitment to the organisation and a willingness to devote the necessary time and effort
  • Preparedness to make unpopular recommendations to the board, and a willingness to speak their mind
  • Willingness to be available for advice and enquiries on an ad hoc basis
  • Good, independent judgement and strategic vision
  • An understanding and acceptance of the legal duties, responsibilities and liabilities of directorship
  • An ability to work effectively and positively as a member of a team
  • An understanding of the respective roles of the Chair, Secretary and Directors

Applications are sought from individuals who reside in and/or have an in-depth understanding of the economic, social and educational needs of the Marches sub region

The Board is seeking to improve the balance of its director group and applications from under-represented groups within the Marches sub regions are encouraged

We especially seek applications from women, people in isolated communities, and individuals self identifying under the nine protected characteristics of the Equality Act 2010. Applications should be marked Private and Confidential and addressed to the Secretary at


This is a voluntary role and a NED may receive limited out of pocket expenses incurred as a result of fulfilling their role as governor. Payments can cover incidental expenses, such as travel and childcare, but not loss of earnings. All claims must be supported by receipts.

Further useful information and guidance on the role of a director can be found at

For further information please email: to arrange an informal discussion