Becoming a federated governing body

Insight – Federation

What was the issue addressed?
Our governing body changed to become a federated governing body. It took time to understand and address the merger of policies and staffing into a federated model.

What happened?
We received support from the Local Authority in forward planning a timetable for review of policies. There was heavy reliance on our policies committee to volunteer time. Most policies required significant input from professionals.

The policy merger and new governing body was successfully set up over the course of two terms.

What lessons were learnt?
There needs to be realistic recognition concerning the time it takes to review and change policies. A timetable and good planning are essential.

The number of federated governing bodies is increasing in Wales so it is helpful to look at the specific requirements and how a ‘federation’ comes about in practice. Welsh Government guidance provides useful advice and information on the process to follow to set up a federated governing body, as well as practical aspects to consider. Here’s the link.

In essence, the federation of schools enables them to work together in a structured way by sharing a governing body. Up to six schools can federate in total. Federation increases partnership working and shared collaboration and can help to improve overall school and pupil performance. Like everything, for a federation to be truly successful, there has to be willingness and commitment from all parties for it to succeed.

From the initial proposal to the actual federation establishment, it is inevitable that this will take time, more so, if a greater number of schools are involved.

The case study particularly focuses on policy review and how the policies committee took on board this area of work.

Yes, bringing together policies from several schools could be quite a task. It is possible though, that several of the Human Resource policies would have been the same in each of the schools, especially if the Local Authority produced certain policies for school governing bodies to adopt.

Governors Cymru Services has a definitive list of statutory policies that governing bodies should have in place.

Moving on, a checklist for policy review enables a planned and staggered approach with defined timescales, so as not to be too overwhelming. The hard work of reviewing and agreeing all policies for the federation has now been undertaken. It should be far easier moving forward.

Estyn has produced a thematic report on effective federations which may be of use if your governing body is considering federation.

Has your governing body had to conduct a major review of policies in response to changes in the status of your school or composition of your governing body?
What challenges do you think there are in becoming a federated governing body?

Have your say…
Have you had experiences similar to these?
What do you think about the situation described?

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01443 844532 / 029 2075 3685 [email protected]
Sam MacNamara – 07943 887275 / Jane Morris – 07957 969708