Last reviewed on 17 January 2022
School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 4308

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.

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 page 68 to 69 of the Governance Handbook.

Why do it?

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