New guidance will help schools combine their strengths

15 September 2015

A guide is being launched today  in the House of Commons for schools which want to join forces to share expertise and further raise standards.

It is aimed at senior leaders and governors and spells out the benefits and types of collaboration, as well as the steps they need to take to form a group of schools. More than half of academies are now part of multi-academy trusts, and maintained schools are continuing to come together to form federations.

An increasing body of evidence shows that strong collaboration combined with joint accountability can lead to better progress and attainment for pupils and help schools meet rising expectations.

Collaboration gives schools the opportunity to share expertise to support one another and tackle challenges; work together to address recruitment shortages; use their combined buying power to negotiate discounts on equipment and other resources; and provide staff with more opportunities and professional development.

Brian Lightman, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: “The key to driving up standards further is to harness the vast amount of good practice that is taking place across our education system by sharing knowledge and expertise through collaboration. This guide is designed to help school leaders to do this.”

ASCL President Allan Foulds, who will be speaking at the reception, said: “Headteachers and governors welcome collaborative approaches which enrich the lives and learning of young people. To feel in control of a school’s destiny the possibilities ahead need to be clear. Signposting the possibilities of grouping schools together enables a truly profession-led response.”

Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the National Governors’ Association, said: “Schools that come together under one governing board are better able to improve the experience and outcomes for pupils, whether that group of schools is a federation or a multi-academy trust.

“Governors and school leaders need information and advice to help form those groupings and to ensure they work well. Today’s resource makes an important start and the National Governors’ Association is able to help provide further bespoke advice on getting the governance of groups right.”

The guide is called Forming or Joining a Group of Schools: staying in control of your school’s destiny. It is produced by the Association of School and College Leaders, the National Governors’ Association and education lawyers Browne Jacobson.

Today’s reception at the House of Commons is hosted by Neil Carmichael MP, chair of the Education Select Committee and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Education Governance and Leadership. It will be attended by Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools Lord Nash.

Mr Carmichael said: “I am delighted to welcome this guide to the benefit of federations and multi-academy trusts. Such working creates greater choice for pupils but also for professional development of leadership and teachers.”

Collaboration between schools is a key part of ASCL’s blueprint for a self-improving system which is led by the profession.