From possible school closure to forming a school federation
Debate – Primary School
What was the issue addressed? This issue started before I became governor but it is what led me to become governor at the school. There was a proposal to close the school and develop a neighbouring school. The best option that the school had to consider was in becoming part of a federation.
During the consultation process and due to strength of feeling from the community, the proposal for school closure was shelved to allow the school opportunity to seek a federation partner. Without an active closure proposal in place, schools previously unwilling to have discussions at federation now felt they could start these discussions.
What lessons were learnt?
Becoming part of a federation saved the school from closure and has been a win win for those involved.
There are a number of federations in Wales, and these are increasing. Most schools enter into a federation for sustainability, securing effective leadership and enhanced school improvement, and the ability to share resources across the federation (between two to six schools). Being part of a federation certainly helps schools where they may have potentially closed, for example, due to pupil numbers, or not being able to appoint a headteacher, as schools in the federation can share one headteacher. However, this would not be the only reason to federate. With more focus on school-to-school collaboration, and the self-improving school focus, federating the governing body may seem like a good next step.
There is Welsh Government guidance on the process to becoming a federation. Proposals can be led by the governing bodies of the schools involved, or by the Local Authority who maintains the schools. Schools in the federation retain their individual legal identities, and their individual school budget, but share governance arrangements, i.e. there is one governing body.
There is some flexibility in the number of governors that you can have on a federated governing body, which means that you can appoint people with certain skills and expertise.
Estyn has produced a thematic report on effective federations which may be of use if your governing body is considering this option.
Has your school faced closure?
What do you perceive as the advantages and disadvantages of being part of a school federation?
Have your say…
Have you had experiences similar to these?
What do you think about the situation described?