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Dear Claire, GB being pressured to federate...

Discussion in 'Governors' started by GTP-er, Mar 17, 2011.

  1. In my LA it is policy to encourage GBs to federate with other schools when a Head resigns. This policy is available online but isn't widely known about and so only the most suspicious of staff/parents are aware of it. As our Head is leaving in the summer I am concerned that the policy to encourage federations will be forced upon the school and have reason to believe that the LA has already started this process. Unfortunately I also have reason to believe that the LA have an Executive Head (of a local federation) in mind for this role and are unlikely to take 'no' without a fight as this Head has already 'got' two primaries and is on the GB of another primary opening soon and of the secondary school - there will be no local schools not governed by this individual which feels uncomfortable at best.
    My question is this, assuming that this process has already started, is there anything to prevent the GB from discussing with the staff and parents the possibility of being federated? It seems unreasonable to expect a GB to make a decision for/against federation without knowing the feeling of the school community.
    My feeling is that, if federation is such a positive move for the school the LA should be encouraging open discussion of it as a possibility but by not doing so it raises questions that may well have unsettling answers.
  2. How big is your school? We have just federated with another primary - we are both very small. The other school had lost their Head but the LA would not support them in looking to appoint a new one. What the withdrawal of their support actually meant, I don't really know. We took the view that it was better to jump before we were pushed so our (former) head is now Executive Head of both schools. This at least lessens the chances of either school being forced to close. There should be a full consultation process with the parents and staff all being informed but if there is a policy available on-line, it is presumably in the public domain and parents and staff could therefore be pointed in that direction.
    Good luck!
  3. The first thing to say is that the decision whether or not to federate is the governing body's (GB) not the LAs. If a GB considers federation and votes not to federate then the only way the LA could over-rule that decision is by disbanding the GB. Removing a GB is a serious matter covered by legislation and the LA would have to show that the GB fell into one of the categories for removal.
    The governing body is responsible for appointing the headteacher so if it is known that the headteacher at the school is leaving in the summer, the governing body is perfectly within its rights to set up a panel and begin the appointment process for a replacement.
    It is good practice with any significant change to a school to consult stakeholders informally - but as federation is a statutory process - there are specific regulations (the School Governance (Federations) (England) Regulations 2007) which govern the process - then there would also be a formal opportunity to comment. If the governing body did decide to propose federation it would have to publish statutory notices and these allow a six week period in which representations for or against the proposal can be made. In order to get that far the governing body need to have considered a report on federation which must be a named item on the agenda of a governing body meeting, so if you have not already done so it may be worth looking at the minutes of the GB meetings to see whether the issue has been discussed already.
    The staff within the school will be represented by the trade unions, if there is concern about what may happen after the head leaves then it is perfectly legitimate for the official trade union reps to raise this issue with the governing body.
    Clare Collins


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