A federation is where a number of maintained schools come together under one governing body. The schools’ individual governing bodies are disbanded and a new single over-arching governing body is formed. This becomes the accountable body for all the schools and sets the strategic direction for the group.
Figures suggest that just over 1000 schools are part of a federation in England.
Federation can be a very effective group structure, providing maintained schools with the opportunity to form a group - without incurring legal costs - in order to improve the education of pupils. This enables governors and school leaders to focus on forming relationships between schools first, and then joint leadership, governance and business management. This can be done while still remaining a maintained school, so the process is much more focused on relationship building and producing tangible outcomes for pupils, instead of being dominated by legal changes in charity/company status and land ownership.
The three main reasons for forming federations (identified by Ofsted in its report Leadership of more than one school) were:
Federations have the following advantages:
These benefits result in improved outcomes for pupils.