Collaboration and Federation

Collaborative models lie on a continuum from very informal arrangements between schools to amalgamations, where two or more schools merge to become a single school.

The North Yorkshire Commission for School Improvement which brought together school and local authority leaders published its report in January 2014. The report concluded that all schools should be part of one or more collaborative arrangements as a means of driving educational improvements.

The LA has produced guidance to support Governors and Headteachers to proactively explore a range of collaborative models. Annex 1 of the guidance provides an audit tool for school leaders and governors to explore the current opportunities and possible challenges to future collaborative working with other schools. It is recommended that the audit is completed prior to any formal discussions taking place with the LA.

There are specific collaborations that Governing Bodies can enter into which are governed by legislation that are detailed below under Collaboration and Federation.

Working together delivers benefits to schools at many levels, including in relation to their governance. The frameworks are in place for both maintained schools and academies to create governance structures that span more than one school.


In September 2003 the DFE produced "Guidance on the School Governance (Collaboration) (England) Regulations 2003. These guidelines explain the arrangements for maintained schools to jointly discharge their functions and set up joint committees.

Maintained schools may collaborate formally with other maintained schools, hold joint governing body meetings and form joint committees Regulations leave much of the detailed arrangements to the schools concerned. They allow two or more governing bodies to arrange for any of their functions to be carried out jointly. They also allow those functions to be delegated to a joint committee. The specific procedures (on clerking and membership of committees, for example) generally mirror those for individual schools. Individual governing bodies retain legal responsibility and corporate liability for all decisions made on their behalf. Governing bodies must therefore make sure that they receive regular reports, including signed minutes, from any joint committees they agree to establish.

Maintained schools may enter into collaborative arrangements with FE colleges through the use of joint committees.*


Federation creates a single governing body to govern more than one maintained school. Schools in federations continue to be individual schools, keeping their existing category and character. Admission to each school continues to be determined by the appropriate admissions authority. The governing body of the federation will receive individual budgets for each of the federated schools, and will be able to use them across the schools in the federation.

The governing body decision to federate must follow a prescribed process, which is detailed in the School Governance (Federations) Regulations 2012.*

If you are considering Federating with another school you will need to read The School Governance (Constitution and Federations) (England) Regulations 2012 and  the School Governance (Constitution and Federations) (England) (Amendment) (No. 1 and) (No.2) Regulations 2014. You will also find the National College of Teaching and Learning document below very helpful.

Useful downloads

Governance in Federations

Federation Regulation Amendments 2012

Guidance on the School Governance (Collaboration 2003)

Constitution of Governing Bodies of Maintained Schools Statutory Guidance

Planning Your Collaboration - November 2014

Strategic Development Committee - Model first agenda

Strategic Development Committee - Terms of Reference

Frequently Asked Questions - Legal

Frequently Asked Questions - General

Application Form for Board of Education Approval (Sept 14 CE Diocese)

School Implementation Guide for Federation