Collaboration and Federation

Collaborative working includes partnership working of all kinds between schools, from informal partnerships, through sharing staff and/or services, to amalgamation. This can take place between maintained schools of different categories and of different age ranges.  

There are three specific types of collaborative working:

Collaboration: formal partnerships with a strategic governance group across the partnership making policy decisions. Schools frequently share headteacher/s. (This has previously been referred to as ‘soft federation’, ‘formal collaboration’ or ‘confederation’.)

Federation: a formal and legal agreement to bring together two or more governing bodies

Amalgamation: the creation of a single school from two or more schools

At its simplest, collaborative working is two or more schools working together to the mutual benefit of their pupils with the overall aim of improving outcomes for all. This has the potential to broaden opportunities and contribute to efficiencies - it is important for governors to keep collaborative working in their sights.

The LA has produced guidance to support Governors and Headteachers to proactively explore a range of collaborative models. It is recommended that the audit is completed prior to any formal discussions taking place with the LA.


Whilst federation should be entered into as a permanent arrangement there are circumstances in which a federation can be dissolved or one of the federated schools can be allowed to leave.  There is formal process which must be followed which is outlined in departmental advice issued by the DfE (see link below). 

Where a board has resolved that a federated school will leave the federation, please inform the local authority at  as the LA will be responsible for the establishment of a temporary governing body in respect of that school.  The governing board of the federation will also need to review the instrument of government and submit a new draft instrument to the LA to become effective on the date of the de-federation.


Useful downloads

Audit Tool

Collaboration Toolkit

Federation Toolkit

A Guide to Models of Collaborative Working (Collaborations, Federations and Amalgamations)