Under sections 24, 25 and 26 of the Education Act 2002, each governing body of maintained schools is able to collaborate in different ways, ranging from joint committees and joint governing body meetings to federations under a single governing body. The regulations on federation and collaboration enable closer collaboration between schools and are part of the Government's thrust to increase freedoms and flexibilities and encourage joint working between providers of education. The federations provisions apply to maintained schools only while the collaboration provisions apply to maintained schools and FE institutions.


In the case of both federation and collaboration, it is for the existing governing bodies to decide whether they wish to take up these options and to carry out the necessary procedures. The federation regulations provide that schools wishing to federate must first consult interested parties in the area including parents, staff at the schools and the local authority (LA). The consultation documents are required to specify

  • the schools involved
  • the proposed date of federation
  • the proposed size of the governing body
  • the proposed numbers of each stakeholder group
  • the proposed arrangements for staffing (that is, whether there will be a headteacher of more than one school and whether other staff will work at more than one school)
  • other details.

The constitution of a federated governing body reflects the stakeholder model applying to individual governing bodies so that any group that would have been represented on the governing bodies of the individual schools will be represented on the governing body of the federation. Stakeholder groups are parents, staff, authority governors, community governors and, for voluntary schools, foundation governors.

Guidance on the federation regulations can be downloaded from this page. The regulations (SI 2007 No. 960) are available on the OPSI website. 

The collaboration regulations leave as much as possible of the detailed arrangements to the schools concerned. They permit two or more governing bodies to arrange for any of their functions to be discharged jointly and for the discharge of any of their functions that may be delegated to a single committee to be delegated to a joint committee. The specific procedures (on clerking and membership of committees, for example) generally mirror those for individual schools.

Since May 2007, maintained schools may enter into collaborative arrangements with FE colleges through the use of joint committees. See the Collaborative Arrangements (Maintained Schools and Further Education Bodies) (England) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/1321).