Federation and collaboration

How we define federations.

Schools in Oxfordshire have a strong record of working in partnership in a variety of ways and we have always been keen to promote this approach. In recent years for some partnerships this has led to the creation of Multi –Academy Trusts. However there are a range of other options which governors may wish to consider.    

It may be helpful to consider this as a continuum:

  • Partnership: two or more schools establish formal and informal agreements to work together
  • Collaboration: a formal partnership model using the collaborative regulations to establish a strategic group where at least one committee has delegated powers. Can also take the form of a collaborative company.
  • Federation: two or more schools are governed collectively under a single governing body

A key feature at all stages of this continuum is that the status of each individual school does not change. Even within a federation each school keeps its DfE number, has its own budget and is inspected separately.

The purpose of any collaboration is to work together to raise standards, promote inclusion, find new ways of approaching teaching and learning and build capacity between schools in a coherent manner. It may begin with a specific issue, for example planning a programme of staff development across more than one school to make better use of resources, both human and financial. At its highest level of federation it creates significant opportunities to maximise the potential within the wider pool of resources and may lead to formal structural changes in leadership and management.    

Achieving higher standards

Federations can increase capacity within the groups of schools to achieve higher standards through improved teaching, learning and governance. Some examples would be:

  • improved senior and middle management by giving wider opportunities across the federation rather than just one school
  • joint staffing opportunities which may include Specialist Teachers and wider career opportunities across the federation
  • strengthening skills and expertise of governing body
  • models of good practice to improve teaching and learning and inclusion
  • a basis for further partnerships, including cross-phase and with other providers (eg. 14-19, community services etc).
  • strategic planning, for example through the sharing of complementary specialisms
  • building capacity and coherence across the federation

The documents below provide further detail on various aspects of collaboration. 

Useful Reference Documents

These documents may be helpful in informing your discussions.