The Blue Tangerine Federation

The Governing Bodies of The Collett School and St Luke's School (incorporating FHEC) have consulted widely and subsequently made the decision to move from an 'Association' of schools to a 'Federation' of Schools.

Reasons for the decision was that it felt a natural progression from an 'association' of the schools and that likely benefits for staff, pupils and parents would continue through the opportunities across the sites and schools. The Federation is from 31st January 2019.

The Blue Tangerine Federation Instrument of Government:

What is Federation?

In an era of increasing school autonomy and declining local authority support, the need for schools to work collaboratively is greater than ever. There are a variety of ways schools can do this, from loose partnerships to more formal arrangements involving shared governance.

In England, local authority maintained schools have the option of becoming a federation, in which the separate schools’ governing bodies become a single governing body with responsibility for all the schools in the federation.

Ofsted's report Leadership of More Than One School found that federation led to:
* Improvements in teaching and learning, behaviour and achievement.
* A broader and richer curriculum.
* Schools pooling resources and expertise, leading to financial and educational benefits.
* Improved staffing, as schools were more able to attract and retain high-quality teachers and leaders.

Why might schools consider federation?

There are a number of reasons a school might consider federation. Teaming a strong school with a failing one is a common driver for federation, with half the schools involved in Ofsted's research citing this as the main reason they wanted to federate.

The first step for many federating schools is an informal collaboration; an Association of schools, often involving the headteacher of one school supporting another school in the role of Executive Headteacher. The success of this arrangement led to the decision to formally federate in every case examined by Ofsted in their report, except one.

In the vast majority of federations failing schools had improved measurably, often moving out of special measures to “good” or “outstanding” within the space of a few years. Reported benefits for stronger schools include the ability to attract better staff, sharing good practice, economies of scale, and access to new funding.

There were several examples of small, rural primary schools which were performing well academically but faced a different raft of challenges, such as falling rolls and vulnerable budgets. For some of these, federation was the preferable alternative to closure, as one chair of governors explained: “I can now honestly say a federation offers all sorts of exciting and really lovely challenges – it’s been great to work with these other schools – but the initial driver was nothing to do with extending the experience of the children; it was about survival.”

For others, the situation was not so desperate, and federation was seen as a way to contribute to the local learning community and give pupils more social and educational opportunities. Professional leadership was a key factor for the majority of the research participants, and interestingly every one that went forward with federation did so under an executive headteacher. Leading a federation can offer different challenges to leading a single school, so it can be easier for federations to attract ambitious leaders.

For example, the governing bodies of two outstanding special schools had individually been unable to find replacements when their headteachers moved on, but together were able to appoint an executive headteacher to lead both schools. The executive headteacher model has been highlighted as a potential solution to the impending headteacher shortage, and as a consequence it is possible that federated governance will become more common in the future.

Many schools in the research benefited from informal collaboration, which begs the question: why federate? In answer, participants spoke of benefits to the governance. Several governing bodies cited greater strategic flexibility in terms of staffing to be a particular plus. For example, the opportunity to develop the staff’s leadership skills can be hugely beneficial in succession planning. One participant described how appointing extra staff to the senior leadership team has resulted in the federation now having three members of staff capable of taking on headship. Where an executive headteacher is responsible for multiple schools, federation can also streamline governing body operations.

Below are some guides and further information about School Federations:

National Governance Association guidance

You can read the consultation document regarding the Federation below:

Foundation Status

St Luke's School and Forest House Education Centre were successful in becoming Foundation Schools in 2016. The Collett School became a Foundation School in January 2019.

What does Foundation School status mean?

A foundation school is a state-funded - maintained school - in which the governing body has greater freedom in the running of the school than in community schools. Foundation schools were set up under the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 to replace grant-maintained schools, which were funded directly by central government.

Foundation schools own their land and buildings and with capital and running costs met by the government . Within the maintained sector in England, approximately 2% of primary schools and 15% of secondary schools are foundation schools. Almost all of these are non-faith schools. The laws that create a foundation school automatically make them a charity.

Reasons For Becoming a Federation

There are several reasons we were interested in moving from an Association to a Federation:
  • To avoid unnecessary duplication of roles and utilise any economies of scale in doing so
  • To increase collaboration, improve standards and further improve the quality of teaching, learning and outcomes for pupils
  • To broaden our organisation partnerships that support improved opportunities for our young people
  • To formalise and further clarify the relationship between our schools
  • In this time of austerity, ensure greater financial stability
  • To widen opportunities for pupils through a broader curriculum across the schools
  • To attract and keep outstanding staff
  • To improve our capacity to 'grow our own' professionals within the federation of schools
  • To ensure sustained, high quality, aspirational and innovative leadership
  • To have a stronger voice in the world of SEND
  • To increase the opportunities for staff research and lead changes in SEND provision
  • To impact succinctly on our pupils' access to the world of work
  • To increase the capacity of special education in West Hertfordshire
  • To expand Outreach to cover more mainstream schools and support more businesses to have effective teams that include SEND adults