The Federation of St Bede’s and St Bernadette Catholic Schools
St Bede’s Catholic Infant & Nursery School is in a soft federation with St Bernadette Catholic Junior School. We work closely with St Bernadette on a range of issues, some of which are outlined below. St Bede’s children have first preference for places at St Bernadette Catholic Junior School, and almost all of our children move on to St Bernadette when they leave us.
A proposal was agreed by the Governing Bodies of St Bede’s and St Bernadette to enter into a ‘soft federation’ commencing from 1st January 2011, to be reviewed in December 2013.
A soft federation is where two or more schools formally agree to work collaboratively to maximise the benefits for all pupils, parents, staff and governors.
You may have heard of schools which enter into a federation where one school acts in a supporting role for another school. St Bede’s and St Bernadette have entered into this federation as equally successful schools working together.
A soft federation will merely formalise the way our schools work together. Each school will retain its own governing body, substantive head teachers, separate budgets but the agreement will enable us to work closely on common projects.
So what are the benefits of soft federation?
In 2005, the (then) DfES published the most important characteristics of a successful federation, based on the experiences of practitioners:
1. A sense of shared identity between schools – for example, through geographical proximity, or a sense of being an inclusive community or ethos.
2. A sense of common purpose - the groups of schools involved in collaboration should have a shared sense of what needs to be done and how it is to be done, and a joint vision for improving the attainment, achievement and progression of young people.
3. Leadership - a collaborative partnership needs a strong cohesive leadership, and federations should be interested in developing and sustaining leadership across all levels of the schools.
4. A strong management infrastructure – federations must demonstrate that they have the capacity to deliver.
5. Increased scope for staff professional development – school staff have the opportunity to broaden their experience and develop their expertise across all primary phases: Foundation Stage, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.
6. Trusting relationship - having trust between schools is fundamental to effective collaboration and should be built into every level of management. Schools need to share a sense of openness and a willingness to operate in a joined-up and united way.
7. A system of review - federations will need to be monitored and evaluated to show that they are being effective.
8. Commitment - schools must be prepared to commit both time and resources to ensure that the federation is effective and sustainable. They will also need a commitment to raise standards and achievement in all of the schools in the federation and to continually improve progression for young people.
9. Communication - excellent communication mechanisms are required when introducing change, particularly where more than one school is involved.
10. Sustainability - there must be a clear sustainability strategy in place to enable a collaboration to cope, for example, if the leadership in one of the schools changes; if additional schools wish to join in; if existing schools wish to leave. If committing contracts or expenditure for any length of time, financial sustainability is vital.
11. Transition – moving from the infant school to the junior school will be seamless.
Please see the St Bernadette website for more information about their school.