Federation and Collaboration

The Education Act 2002 allows maintained schools to collaborate or to federate. Since 2007 maintained schools can enter into collaborative arrangements with further education (FE) colleges through the use of joint committees.  Governing bodies that decide to collaborate or to federate must do so in accordance with the relevant Regulations, see links below.

While the Collaboration Regulations do not permit maintained schools to share governance arrangements and form formal joint committees with academies, they may collaborate informally. For example, a joint working group may be established which is purely advisory in nature, making recommendations to the boards of both schools who retain decision making powers.

Introducing collaboration and federation

Collaboration Getting Started Updated Oct 2019
Collaboration Governance Updated Oct 2019
An Overview Of Collaboration And Federation
Benefits Of Collab And Fed Oct 2019


Governing bodies of maintained schools can meet together or can set up a joint committee, which may have specific, delegated decision-making power agreed by each school’s governing body.  The governing bodies retain legal responsibility and corporate liability for all decisions taken on their behalf.  The Regulations must be followed when establishing a collaboration.

School Governance Collaboration Regulations 2003
Collaboration Process
DRAFT Collaboration AGREEMENT MASTER OCT 2019 (1)
DRAFT Collaboration JSC TERMS OF REF MASTER OCT 2019 (1)
Collaboration Arrangements (Maintained Schools and Further Education Bodies) (England) Regulations 2007)


When two or more maintained schools are governed by a single governing body the schools operate within a federation.  Each school retains a separate, individual identity.

A statutory consultation process must be followed to determine whether a single federated governing body should be established, as formal and binding commitments are made.  A new Instrument of Government is made to record the constitution of the new governing body.  A federation may be dissolved.

The School Governance (Federations) (England) Regulations 2012
Also see The School Governance (Constitution and Federations) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2014  and 2017
Proposal Document Baschurch And Myddle V4
Step 2 Federation Further Guidance
Step Guide To Federating Dfe
Timetable For A Federation Process Based On Dfe
Federation Notes For Church Schools
Federations Financial Implications Oct 2019
Frequently Asked Questions Oct 2019
Procedure To Establish A Federation 2012 Revised 05 2019

NB: Multi-Academy Trust (MAT).  A MAT is a group of academies governed under a single board of trustees that operate outside the maintained schools sector and therefore operates under a different legal framework to a federation or formal collaboration.

Additional Resources

 DfE Setting Up School Partnerships Guide

The Governance of Federations – National College for Teaching and Learning