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Adviser for each region to help federate

Experts will be sent to all corners of England to help schools federate this year, as part of government plans to transform the way headteachers work.

The advisers have been employed as part of a new National College for Leadership of Schools and Children's Services programme.

Their appointment comes after Schools Secretary Ed Balls said he wanted new federations in order to save #163;500 million a year.

Rural primaries will be encouraged to work more closely together as part of the scheme - which is designed to "remodel" school leadership.

The advisers will help schools share resources and ideas and at first will work with local authorities and dioceses. But the National College said the aim was to help heads rather than force them to cut budgets.

"Federation in order to spend less is a false economy and that would be a terrible thing for schools to do," said Stella Blackmore, the college's national succession consultant. "What this programme will do is help schools come up with different arrangements. This will be of particular benefit to rural schools and communities."

Around nine of the "national associates" will work in England, one in each region. An executive director will start work in April.

Headteachers will be given more information about the scheme at a National College rural schools conference next month.

"The work we do to help them will have a much more regional focus from this year onwards," Ms Blackmore said. "We want to raise the profile of rural schools and... encourage teachers to lead them."

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