There are about 3,500 schools in the UK with fewer than 100 pupils. They are expensive in terms of cost per pupil, and the national curriculum makes disproportionate demands on them.
A recent Coopers and Lybrand report commissioned by the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers examined a number of approaches to cost-saving in small schools, including clustering, pyramids, "confederation" and "federation". It defines the closest kind of collaboration as, "The Federated School . . . a single legal entity operating on more than one site. The individual sites were separate schools before the formation of the federated school." It is this model which the NASUWT executive, after consultation on the Coopers and Lybrand report, has chosen as the one for the association to promote.
The report analyses the possible cost savings within a federation, using the School Teachers' Review Body's 1994 workload survey. Many of the head's tasks, it points out, "are related to the existence of a school and not to its size ... each school has a separate budget ... each school has a separate governing body ... a separate development plan."
Thus, the report suggests, savings can be made, because the federation head's administrative workload will be less than the total workload of the separate heads. "We estimate that the net savings in headteacher time alone are likely to be in the order of half a post when three schools come together to form a federation." There will be corresponding savings among administrative staff. Some federations already exist, but the report points out that they have up to now been created by local authorities. "It is possible to conceive of events which might lead governing bodies of schools already working in close partnership to choose to seek full federation status."
* Safety in Numbers:small schools and collaborative arrangements byCoopers and Lybrand,commissioned by NASUWT,is available fromHillscourt Education Centre,Rose Hill, Rednal,Birmingham B45 8RS
HOW THE SUMS ADD UP
The Coopers and Lybrand report gives the following example: * Pre-federationThree schools - each head on point 3 of the heads' scale (Pounds 24,453, total Pounds 73,359) A total of 4.5 teachers all on point 9 of the teachers' scale (Pounds 20,145, total Pounds 90,653))Total teaching staff costs, without on-costs, Pounds 164,012 * Post-federationOne head on point8 (Pounds 26,388)2 principal teachers (assistant heads)on point 12 of the teachers' scale (Pounds 24,474, total Pounds 48,948)4.3 teachers onpoint 9 of theteachers' scale (Pounds 20,145,total Pounds 86,624) Total teaching staff costs, Pounds 161,960 * The report alsosays, "Although there would be fewer teaching staff overall (7.3 instead of 7.5) more time would be devoted to teaching the pupils in a federated school"