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The National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) has today published guidance for schools interested in becoming a local authority (LA) maintained federation. The report includes information about why schools might consider federation, guidance on the process of becoming a federation, and answers to frequently asked questions. There are also case studies of existing federations in which governors and headteachers share their experiences and offer tips for success.
The reports identifies a number of reasons why schools choose to federate but the three main ones (all illustrated by the case studies In the publication) are to:
• address or prevent school failure
• ensure viability and achieve economies of scale
• create more integrated provision across phases
The report concludes that "the underlying theme is a strong sense of the benefits of working together that federation provides and an outward-facing commitment to improving the provision and outcomes across a local area or group of schools for the benefit of all children, their families and communities.”
NCTL report: The governance of federations
Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the NGA, said: “Academy trustees are taking to shared governance in multi-academy trusts much more readily than local authority maintained schools who have not yet been convinced by the advantages to all pupils. The National Governors’ Association welcomes the publication of this report which should encourage governing bodies of local authority maintained school to consider the benefits of joint governance. It has been shown time and time again that governing a group of schools does have benefits. This is not merely a change of the legal governance structure; it is about consolidating joint working between schools in order to provide the best possible education for pupils.”
NGA has long supported schools joining federations, and many of the messages from NCTL’s report tally with those from our own research, The Road to Federation. Ofsted has also set of the benefits of federation in its report Leadership of more than one school.
And in another media intervention this week, Sir Michael Wilshaw HMCI said every school should be compelled to federate in order to speed up improvement. He told TES, “If I were a secretary of state, I would use legislation to compel all schools to join clusters, organised either by local authorities or by these new regional commissioners…I wouldn’t wait for this to happen by osmosis, I would actually force schools to join clusters.” Ofsted would get new powers to inspect federations, and heads would be awarded with ‘exceptional’ status and be paid more as a reward for leading groups of schools in challenging areas. Read a summary of the interview here.
This week the Centre for Social Justice, a think tank set up by the Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP, has published a report calling for schools to work together to raise standards of education in deprived areas. Amongst other things, the report recommends that primary schools are incentivised to form local authority (LA) federations by extending the £25,000 of seed funding currently offered to schools joining MATs to those joining federations – something we have called for in our manifesto.