The Blue Tangerine Federation

The Governing Bodies of The Collett School and St Luke's School (incorporating FHEC) have consulted widely and subsequently made the decision to move from an 'Association' of schools to a 'Federation' of Schools.

Reasons for the decision was that it felt a natural progression from an 'association' of the schools and that likely benefits for staff, pupils and parents would continue through the opportunities across the sites and schools. The Federation took effect as of 31st January 2019.

The Blue Tangerine Federation Instrument of Government:

The governors of The Collett School also made the decision for the school to move to Foundation Status at the same time as the Federation of the schools, meaning The Collett School will have increased responsibilities for its own land.

Federation Letter to Stakeholders:

The Consultation Documentation (10 Sept 2018 to 19 Oct 2018):

What is Federation?

In an era of increasing school autonomy and declining local authority support, the need for schools to work collaboratively is greater than ever. There are a variety of ways schools can do this, from loose partnerships to more formal arrangements involving shared governance.

In England, local authority maintained schools have the option of becoming a federation, in which the separate schools’ governing bodies become a single governing body with responsibility for all the schools in the federation.

Ofsted's report Leadership of More Than One School found that federation led to:
* Improvements in teaching and learning, behaviour and achievement.
* A broader and richer curriculum.
* Schools pooling resources and expertise, leading to financial and educational benefits.
* Improved staffing, as schools were more able to attract and retain high-quality teachers and leaders.

Why might schools consider federation?

There are a number of reasons a school might consider federation. Teaming a strong school with a failing one is a common driver for federation, with half the schools involved in Ofsted's research citing this as the main reason they wanted to federate.

The first step for many federating schools is an informal collaboration; an Association of schools, often involving the headteacher of one school supporting another school in the role of Executive Headteacher. The success of this arrangement led to the decision to formally federate in every case examined by Ofsted in their report, except one.

In the vast majority of federations failing schools had improved measurably, often moving out of special measures to “good” or “outstanding” within the space of a few years. Reported benefits for stronger schools include the ability to attract better staff, sharing good practice, economies of scale, and access to new funding.

There were several examples of small, rural primary schools which were performing well academically but faced a different raft of challenges, such as falling rolls and vulnerable budgets. For some of these, federation was the preferable alternative to closure, as one chair of governors explained: “I can now honestly say a federation offers all sorts of exciting and really lovely challenges – it’s been great to work with these other schools – but the initial driver was nothing to do with extending the experience of the children; it was about survival.”

For others, the situation was not so desperate, and federation was seen as a way to contribute to the local learning community and give pupils more social and educational opportunities. Professional leadership was a key factor for the majority of the research participants, and interestingly every one that went forward with federation did so under an executive headteacher. Leading a federation can offer different challenges to leading a single school, so it can be easier for federations to attract ambitious leaders.

For example, the governing bodies of two outstanding special schools had individually been unable to find replacements when their headteachers moved on, but together were able to appoint an executive headteacher to lead both schools. The executive headteacher model has been highlighted as a potential solution to the impending headteacher shortage, and as a consequence it is possible that federated governance will become more common in the future.

Many schools in the research benefited from informal collaboration, which begs the question: why federate? In answer, participants spoke of benefits to the governance. Several governing bodies cited greater strategic flexibility in terms of staffing to be a particular plus. For example, the opportunity to develop the staff’s leadership skills can be hugely beneficial in succession planning. One participant described how appointing extra staff to the senior leadership team has resulted in the federation now having three members of staff capable of taking on headship. Where an executive headteacher is responsible for multiple schools, federation can also streamline governing body operations.

Below are some documents that may be of interest regarding the federation of schools:

You can read the consultation document regarding the Federation below:

Why Consider 'Federation'?

There are several reasons we are interested in moving from an association to a Federation:
  • To avoid unnecessary duplication of roles and utilise any economies of scale in doing so
  • To increase collaboration, improve standards and further improve the quality of teaching, learning and outcomes for pupils
  • To broaden our organisation partnerships that support improved opportunities for our young people
  • To formalise and further clarify the relationship between our schools
  • In this time of austerity, ensure greater financial stability
  • To widen opportunities for pupils through a broader curriculum across the schools
  • To attract and keep outstanding staff
  • To improve our capacity to 'grow our own' professionals within the federation of schools
  • To ensure sustained, high quality, aspirational and innovative leadership
  • To have a stronger voice in the world of SEND
  • To increase the opportunities for staff research and lead changes in SEND provision
  • To impact succinctly on our pupils' access to the world of work
  • To increase the capacity of special education in West Hertfordshire
  • To expand Outreach to cover more mainstream schools and support more businesses to have effective teams that include SEND adults

Foundation Status

What does Foundation School status mean?

In England and Wales, a foundation school is a state-funded - maintained school - in which the governing body has greater freedom in the running of the school than in community schools. The laws that create a foundation school automatically make them a charity.

  • The Collett School is a maintained local authority school.
  • St Luke's & Forest House have Foundation School status already. order to federate the schools, The Collett will need to become a Foundation School also.

The key features of a Foundation School are:

the land and buildings are owned by a governing board, who are also responsible for running the school
the Local Authority (LA) funds the school
the governing board employs the staff
the governing board buys in and administers most of the support services
the pupils follow the national curriculum
the admissions policy is determined and administered by the governing board, in consultation with the LA

How does the day to day running of a Foundation School Differ?

If a Foundation School chooses to adopt LA policies and buy into its traded services then the day to day running of the school need not change at all. Foundation Schools do however have greater freedoms and responsibilities for the land and buildings, admissions and as the employer of staff.

What are a Foundation School’s legal responsibilities around admissions?

The legal responsibilities of the Governing Board (GB) for admissions are:
Deciding admission arrangements, Allocating places in accordance with arrangements, Determining arrangements on an annual basis, Consulting if the Governing Board wishes to amend arrangements, Responsibility for presenting and administering appeals

Where Governing Boards of foundation schools adopt the same or similar admission rules as Hertfordshire County Council, HCC’s Admissions and Transport Team can administer their admission arrangements at no cost to the school. Legal responsibility for admissions will remain with the Governing Board even if HCC administers the arrangements.

What does the change in status mean for staff?

When a community school transfers to foundation status, staff transfer to the employment of the governing board under the provisions of the School Organisation Prescribed Alterations to Maintained Schools England Regulations 2007 Regulations. These provide for all rights, powers, duties and liabilities relating to the contracts of employment of staff members to transfer from the LA to the governing board. Whilst TUPE does not technically apply, the staff transfer will follow a TUPE-like process.

Foundation schools are free to continue to receive advice and guidance from the Schools HR teams, Payroll, Legal, etc. via the current Service Level Agreement arrangements.

Can foundation schools set their own pay and conditions for teaching staff?

The Regulations require the continued recognition of the nationally agreed terms and conditions of employment for teachers ie the Blue Book and the Burgundy Book in foundation schools.

What would a conversion mean for support staff?

The Regulations do not preserve recognition of the nationally agreed terms and conditions of employment for support staff in the same way as they do for teachers’ terms and conditions of employment. Therefore, as the employer, the governing board may set its own terms and conditions for support staff newly appointed to the foundation school after the transfer should they wish to, subject to employment law. However, existing staff whose employment transfers to the foundation school from the Local Authority will have their existing terms and conditions of employment protected at the point of transfer by the above Regulations.

The Regulations do not protect continued recognition of the Green Book, meaning that post transfer, the foundation School could potentially make changes to terms and conditions of employment for pre-existing support staff, where such changes are agreed. Changes to terms and conditions of employment cannot be made unilaterally and the process for making contractual changes will be subject to the current employment law and contract law frameworks that apply to variation of contractual terms.

What additional responsibilities do governing boards of foundation schools have in relation to the employment of staff compared to community schools?

The governing board of foundation schools will be the employer. As such, the governing board has the full range of employer responsibilities under employment law. This includes recruitment, staff training, and management of employee disputes, conduct matters, capability, health and safety of staff at work.

Are there any additional costs associated with being a Foundation School?

Not once operational, but there are costs associated with the conversion process that will be borne by the Council. These costs will include legal and HR advice.

What does Foundation Status mean for our assets?

The Governing Board will have the legal title to the assets to be transferred. Details of such assets will form part of the conversion process. Often but not always, the land and buildings are generally owned by the Governing Board and the playing fields are owned by the local authority but leased under a 25 year arrangement. The governing board then retains the day-to-day control over the school’s premises. Foundation Schools remain a full and equal part of the local education authority planning process for capital spending, and priorities for this investment remain with the local education authority. However, the position in relation to each conversion described in this FAQ will be considered on a case by case basis.

What happens to any existing leases on the site, such as to a pre-school for example?

The governing board will replace the Council as the owner of the site, and so will inherit these leases, becoming the landlord in place of the local education authority. The governing board will take on the responsibilities of the landlord. The responsibilities of the tenant will not change.

What happens if there is a major buildings incident, such as a fire or roof failure?

The governing board is the owner of the building and it is therefore its responsibility to ensure that sufficient insurance cover is in place from the outset. Foundation schools are able to buy-back the HCC standard insurance cover in the same way as maintained schools.

Are there any financial benefits of converting?

Foundation status does not bring additional funding. However, foundation schools as charities are able to claim gift aid and relief from Non Domestic rates and assuming payroll is under £3m would be exempt from the apprenticeship levy.

What does a change in status mean for the Governing Board?

The governing boards of foundation schools are bound by the same Regulations as those of other maintained schools - Statutory guidance for governing boards of maintained schools and local authorities in England
The Governing Boards of foundation schools consist of five compulsory groups:
Local Authority
Foundation - In a foundation school without a foundation; not supported by a trust, for example, foundation governors are replaced by partnership governors. In a foundation school with a foundation ie a trust school, the trust will appoint the foundation governors.

Are individual governors personally liable for the governing board's decisions and actions?

Provided they act honestly, reasonably, and in good faith any liability will generally fall on the governing board as a whole.

Ofsted can still force a foundation school into a MAT and, the decision to become a foundation school is not reversible.