The Leek Federation 

 1.         Introduction

There is a long history of all of the schools in Leek working together in partnership. As Leek has a three tier system there are four schools deemed to be Secondary Schools and these four schools have always worked closely together on all issues relating to the education of our young people. The four schools are

  • Churnet View Middle School
  • Leek High Specialist Technology School
  • St Edward’s CE (A) Junior High School
  • Westwood College

In order to be able to continue to offer an outstanding education, at a time of declining school incomes and a radically changed County Council structure, the following three of the schools, from 1st September 2012, entered into a Hard Federation, in accordance with The School Governance (Federations) (England) Regulations 2007:

  • Churnet View Middle School
  • Leek High Specialist Technology School
  • Westwood College

A Hard Federation is a formal and legal agreement by which these three schools now have a single Governing Body.

The Hard Federation, of the three schools, is formally known as ‘THE LEEK FEDERATION’.

IN ADDITION, St Edward’s Academy has entered into a formal collaboration with the three other schools so that all four schools now work together to further improve outcomes for the young people of Leek and The Moorlands. For legal reasons around their church status it is not possible for St Edward’s to federate under the same terms and conditions as the other schools. However, St Edward’s Academy has representation on the Federation Governing Body and on the committees of the federation’s Governing Body. Schools in The Leek Federation, likewise, have representation on the Governing Body of St Edward’s Academy. In this way all four schools will continue to work together to share and realise a common vision that maintains the three tier system, building upon the superb work being done in the First Schools. 

2.         Background

a)  A history of collaboration

As stated previously there had been a long history of working together amongst all of the schools in Leek. The four schools are committed to a shared vision based on their solid existing partnership.

The benefits of collaborative working have included:

  • We have been able to improve results for young people by offering an increased range of opportunities. There has been the chance to develop programmes of study across  the schools, for example, work with Gifted and Talented and Special Needs students in the Performing Arts
  • We have tackled issues relating to families and communities more effectively, for example, in our work with vulnerable families and on inclusion. We have been able to use our Family Support Workers in a very effective way, to benefit families across all the tiers in the town
  • We have addresses issues relating to attainment and achievement more effectively, for example, our staff have been able to share good practice
  • We have improved teaching and learning and provided better quality training opportunities for all staff, and been able to have joint Training days with keynote speakers
  • We have achieved economies of scale in purchasing policy, for example, ICT procurement, ICT technical support, administrative supplies, grounds maintenance work
  • We have secured savings in planning and administrative time
  • We have been able to plan strategically across the schools  and have developed a shared sense of identity and a common sense of purpose
  • We have increased our capacity to improve learning in all of the schools, for example,  by sharing good practice in the teaching of Mathematics
  • We have joined together to access extended services, such as Health and Educational Welfare
  • We have improved further the transition of students into, between and from schools, as staff from the schools have met regularly to share information on individual students

b)  Strengthening the bonds

In creating the Hard Federation the schools made a commitment to work ever more closely together to gain the maximum benefit for the young people by sharing expertise, facilities and building on the success of the long-standing successful collaboration. The creation of one Governing Body, for the three schools, has allowed the Governing Body to strategically lead all three schools, ensuring the smoothest possible route for our 9-19 year olds. The advantage of a Hard Federation is that it has strengthened significantly the permanent long term relationship between the schools in the Federation.

3.  What do these proposals, to include a Hard Federation of three of the schools, mean for the four schools?

This restructuring was the logical development of the collaborative arrangements that were already have in place. 

The Hard Federation, of the three schools, with strong collaboration with St Edward’s Junior High School, has provided an opportunity for all four schools to work closely together whilst retaining their own character and ethos. 

The key features of the federation proposals are:

  • A single Federated Governing Body, with representation for St Edward’s Academy, makes efficient, streamlined decisions in all aspects of school improvement planning. The arrangement is, therefore, be a true partnership
  • Whilst all three federated schools continue to receive a separate budget based on the Staffordshire and national formulae, the new joint Governing Body has greater flexibility in the spending of the budgets to best meet the needs of the children in all three of the schools
  • Shared management positions and other staff appointments are being agreed in a simple, effective manner because there is a single Governing Body.  A post of Executive Principal across the federated schools has been established but each school also retains its Head teacher
  • All three schools in the Hard Federation have retained their own separate identity and keep their unique Department for Education (DfE) number and a separate budget; they kept their own name and have separate accountability to Ofsted for the quality of education provided and the standards achieved
  • The Governing Body cannot require existing staff to work across all four schools within the partnership, but can appoint new staff to do so
  • St Edward’s Academy, by collaborating with the Leek  Federation, is a full participant in all of the planning decisions that are helping to  shape the future of educational provision in the secondary sector in the town
  • This arrangement has enabled St Edward’s Academy to be full participants whilst retaining their religious ethos and full control of their staffing, land and buildings that are held in trust by the Church of England.


4.         Conditions of a Successful Federation

The Department for Education provides advice on the most significant characteristics of a successful federation, and any collaboration, based on the experiences of other schools that have already created such an arrangement.  The likely conditions for a successful partnership include:

  • A sense of shared identity between schools through being close together and a sense of being part of the same community
  • A strong sense of common purpose, with schools involved having a shared sense of what needs to be done, how it is done and a joint vision for improving the attainment, achievement and progression of their young people
  • A strong cohesive leadership and an interest in developing leadership at all levels in the participating schools
  • A strong management team with the ability to deliver the school improvement agenda
  • Trust built into every level of management, the ability to share a sense of openness, and willingness to operate in a joined-up and united way
  • Schools prepared to commit time and resources to ensure that the new system is effective and sustainable. There must be a strong commitment to raising standards and achievement in all schools in the partnership and to continually improve progression for their young people

6.         Benefits of Federation

This partnership has built on the successes that were already being achieved and is already producing the following:


The key benefits will be educational.

Federation across the tiers has enabled a child’s journey through the system to be planned more effectively. All of the schools have taken responsibility for all of the children in the schools. Resource, support, care and guidance is focused on the needs of the child not the school. This partnership is a mechanism for developing this change of focus away from needless competition between schools. It is also a springboard for further raising the aspirations of students throughout the town.

Whilst our schools have been forced to respond to financial and political pressures the key driving force behind the federation has been to improve the quality of educational provision. Some examples of ways in which we have been able to support improvements to learning are:

  • Transition between stages and schools has been further improved
  • Schools have developed a range of clear and consistent policies and procedures for a range of educational activities such as assessment, learning and teaching, quality control, classroom management
  • Improved cooperation has allowed for greater sharing of good practice, teaching expertise, management  and the reaching of joint solutions to individual problems; it has built capacity
  • Schools do not enjoy the benefits of equally good facilities: strengthened partnership has enabled us to more readily share our facilities and improve the educational opportunities of our youngsters.
  • Curriculum planning has become much more flexible across the  four schools
  • Extracurricular activities has been enhanced as facilities and costs have been shared  – a trip that is not viable for one school becomes viable if two or more are involved
  • There has been an improved capacity to recruit and retain the best staff.  By planning across the partnership we have begun to recruit more effectively and offer improved career progression. This has enabled us to retain our best staff and offer training that might otherwise be unaffordable
  • Protocols have been established ensuring that there is ‘joined –up thinking’ around holidays, training sessions, whole school events and transition
  • There is an opportunity for the schools to become a centre of excellence for learning and teaching
  • We have a consistent approach to the delivery of Care, Guidance and Support
  • It has created a single learning community that will improve educational outcomes and strengthen the consistency of education for the whole community


There are increasingly serious financial pressures on schools resulting from the actions of both Central and Local Government. Some examples of the challenges that we face are:

  • Budgets are being cut back  by Central Government whilst, at the same time, most Local Government charges are being increased  as a consequence of the  reduction of Central Government funding of Local Authorities.
  • Staffing and Premises costs are continuing to increase whilst schools are having their income reduced by, for example, a marked reduction in the income received per Sixth Form student
  • Increased competition from institutions within the nearby North Staffordshire conurbation threatens to attract our students to study elsewhere
  • Schools will receive no additional funding to accommodate the raising of the Leaving Age in 2013
  • Inflation in the education sector  is above the national rate of inflation



Political pressures are also being applied to schools to divorce themselves from centralised control

  • Local Authorities who have for many years provided a framework of support and guidance for schools are finding their powers diminished, their finances reduced and their capacity to assist schools altered. If the broader family of schools is being modified then institutions may have to form alternative networks that can promote the education and well-being of young people
  • The Academies programme is likely to result in many  schools becoming independent of the Local Authority
  • Nationally the three tier system is under threat in a number of Local Authorities

7.         Leadership and Staffing of the Federation

Leadership Team

Every school must have a substantive (legal) Head Teacher. There is an Executive Principal who provides strategic leadership across the Federation and the partnership. The current Head Teachers of the schools remain and have legal responsibility for that school

Other Staff

In the federated schools staff remain contracted to the school to which they were originally appointed to, prior to the Federation, undertaking duties in that school. One of the benefits of schools federating is that it is possible, on occasion, to deploy staff across the schools to help support identified needs.

However, now that the three schools are formally federated then the Governing Body has the option of appointing any new staff to work in one or all of the schools.

All appointments remain subject to The School Staffing (England) Regulations 2009.   

8.         Admissions to the Federated Schools

Student admissions to the federated schools have continued to be organised by Staffordshire Local Authority and there has been  NO CHANGE to the process for admissions in all of the schools.

9.         Composition of the Federation Governing Body in the three Federated Schools


Max across Fed

Churnet View

Leek High

Westwood College

I parent for each school in The Leek Federation



William Hurst

Belinda Hargreaves

I Head teacher for each school in The Leek Federation


Julia Turner

John Spencer

Richard Hey

1 teaching staff governor in total across The Leek Federation


Holly Higton



1 support staff governor in total across The Leek Federation




Malcolm Clewes

1 Local Authority Governor in total




John Fisher

2 Foundation Governors in total – at least 2 but not more than 45%




Mandy Bennett

Co op – Vacancy

Co-opted Governors in total

(maximum 8 can be staff)


Judy Gregg

Shaun Knight


Cliff Mitchell

Barbara Hine


Mike Smith

Liz Clarke

Craig Balderstone

Minimum of 7/no maximum





Staff not to exceed one third of total membership, including the Head teachers