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News - 20 December 2013

The National Governors Association report of Federation in Academy Schools.

The National Governors Association (NGA) has published the final report from their research into governing bodies that consider joining federations and multi-academy trusts (MATs).
 

These reports are the culmination of a one year research project involving 14 groups of schools that have considered creating a federation or MAT. The study looked at the reasons why governing bodies consider federation, who influences the decision, and what barriers are faced.
 

Lavinia Newman, founder of ABDS and an active school governor comments:
“NGA decided to undertake this research project because they were aware of a lack of research on how and why some governors decide to federate and others don’t. The coalition government has been somewhat reluctant to promote federation in local authority maintained schools – for example, Lord Nash referred to it as a “second best model” compared to academy conversion.”

The key findings from the study are:

  • Governing bodies were often motivated to consider becoming a federation/MAT for a combination of reasons, but key drivers were school improvement, saving small schools from closure and sharing a headteacher.
  • In most cases the governing body was responsible for making the final decision whether or not to join a federation/MAT and the decision is not always made unanimously.  Where it was unanimous the school had often previously collaborated with their prospective partner(s).
  • Every governing body in this study that went forward with becoming a federation or MAT did so under an executive headteacher.
  • Governing bodies consulted key stakeholders including parents and staff. Although governors were clear that if a majority of consultees had opposed federation they would not have continued at that point, in practice, consultation allowed governing bodies to identify and address concerns rather than decide whether or not to federate.
  • Despite this, resistance from stakeholders presented a barrier for several governing bodies. Parents were most commonly concerned with sharing a headteacher, whereas staff were often worried about their pay and conditions. Opposition was most successfully dealt with where governors took the time to fully address concerns and by effective communication.
  • Lack of information presented a barrier to some governing bodies. The local authority was a key source of guidance for many, but a minority were not as well supported. Some reported that it was difficult to find objective advice elsewhere.

If you need any help and advice with Free Schools, Academy Schools or Charities, contact Lavinia Newman or Peter Ham now to discuss how ABDS can help bring their experience to these matters.

ABDS Chartered Certified Accountants of Southampton.
Tel: 023 8083 6900  E-mail: abds@netaccountants.net

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