Soft federations: process

Be clear on what a soft federation, or collaboration, is between maintained schools. Understand why you might form one, and the step-by-step process you can follow to set one up.

Last reviewed on 9 January 2023
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School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 4308
  1. What is it?
  2. Why do it?
  3. Process for forming a soft federation
  4. Tips for a smooth federation
  5. How to dissolve a soft federation

What is it?

A ‘soft federation’ (also known as a ‘collaboration’) is where 2 or more maintained schools formally collaborate. They can arrange for any of their functions to be carried out jointly, such as through joint committees and joint board meetings.

But, individual boards still have legal responsibility for all decisions made on their behalf and they don't form 1 governing board.

This is different from a 'hard federation', where 2 or more maintained schools share a single governing board.  

This is outlined in regulation 3 of The School Governance (Collaboration) (England) Regulations 2003, schedule 2 of The School Governance (Roles, Procedures and Allowances) (England) Regulations 2013, and on pages 68 to 69 of the Governance Handbook.

Why do it?

It can be a time-bound arrangement for a short-term problem, or set up