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Operating your collaboration Why would you use it?How does it work? Operating a collaboration, collaborative governance or federation is challenging. Schools.

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Presentation on theme: "Operating your collaboration Why would you use it?How does it work? Operating a collaboration, collaborative governance or federation is challenging. Schools."— Presentation transcript:

1 Operating your collaboration Why would you use it?How does it work? Operating a collaboration, collaborative governance or federation is challenging. Schools can use this tool to provide them with the information and guidance they need to support the successful operation of a collaboration or federation. This tool provides an overview of all the areas which schools may wish to consider while operating a collaboration or federation. Tool created October 2010 – all links to external websites and information cannot be guaranteed after this time.

2 Reviewing and managing performance To ensure the ongoing success of your collaboration or federation, you may find it helpful to implement and maintain a consistent framework for managing the performance. What to review?How to review? Some of the issues to consider when reviewing and managing the performance of your collaboration or federation include:  Functionality of the new model – how is everything working? Is everything as effective and efficient as possible?  Ability to realise desired benefits – could you be doing anything more to enhance benefits realisation?  Joined-up working between schools  Staff satisfaction and performance in the new model  Satisfaction of other stakeholder groups, such as parents, pupils and the community  Ongoing management of risks and issues  Optimal use of existing resources and facilities  Early identification and action when new resources are required  Communication with all stakeholders, to continue to manage expectations and keep open channels of dialogue  Leadership capability to maintain positive and open atmosphere  Leadership capability to capitalise on new opportunities generated by federating  Functionality of governing body / bodies – are the governors working well within the new operating model?  If your collaboration is not delivering as expected, do you understand why this is, considering areas such as people (ie skills, time, etc.) or systems (ie ineffective ICT, poor communication, etc.)? Have you identified actions to address the issue? When designing your review process, you need to be totally clear on what information you will be collecting. If you have not already done this in earlier stages, have you identified how you will monitor performance? How will you collect the necessary information, through channels such as staff surveys, pupil attainment, etc.? What specific areas will you be looking at? Will you use existing information such as objectives, risks and issues, and roles and responsibilities to shape the nature and focus of your monitoring? How will you manage high performing-areas to ensure they remain strong? How will you manage areas which are not meeting expectations? Have you ensured that opportunities to deliver further improvement have been identified and auctioned? Top tip Some of the areas you may wish to monitor include but aren’t limited to: Attainment levels Staff morale, roles, utilisation and workload Use of resources and facilities Relationships and working practices between schools Procurement practices The specific areas which you aimed to target through collaboration October 2010

3 Benefits tracking In addition to reviewing and managing performance, you may increase the positive impact of collaborating by regularly tracking the progress of your desired benefits. If you have not defined your indicators yet, it can help to take the time to both define indicators and to determine how you will measure each of these indicators. In the early stages of collaborating or federating, you are likely to have identified the desired benefits you were hoping to realise. In the implementing phase, you are likely to have begun the process of tracking your benefits – this is as simple as noticing that, for example, business managers are having an easier time procuring well-priced contracts, and students are accessing a wider range of extracurricular options. Now, in the operating phase, benefits tracking remains an important part of ensuring the success of your collaboration. Comparing your desired benefits with the actual realisation of these benefits will help you to answer the following questions:  Is your collaboration or federation an overall success?  Are you succeeding in your desired areas of focus? If not, why?  Are you realising unexpected benefits? If so, what?  Are the benefits you identified in the planning phase of your collaboration or federation still relevant? If not, how can you change them to make benefits tracking a more meaningful measurement of the efficacy of your collaboration or federation?  Do you need to make any strategic or operational changes to improve your ability to realise benefits? Sample benefits tracking table Desired Benefit Target Month Achieved? (Y/N) Evidence Increased standards June 2010 Y 15% improved student performance in GCSEs Tracking benefits does not need to be complicated. You can use a table like this to record all your desired benefits and target dates for benefits realisation. It’s helpful to update the table on a regular basis, recording whether or not benefits have been realised and, if so, evidence of their realisation. October 2010

4 Key operating challenges Although the most challenging phase is over, you are still likely to encounter challenges to operating your federation. The key to addressing these challenges is anticipating their potential occurrence, identifying them in early stages, and developing and implementing an effective solution – or, if possible, an action which avoids the development of an issue altogether. The major ongoing challenge for most federations is making sure that staff feel valued, informed, and a sense of belonging within the wider school community. Make sure you continue to offer staff viable channels through which they can voice their feelings. In more diffuse working models, it is also important to ensure that staff are always aware of who has responsibility of a given site, whether it is the Headteacher, a Deputy Headteacher, member of the leadership team, etc. Staff challenges In addition to distributing resources and costs fairly, many schools in federations have struggled to manage and report against the budget. It is an ongoing challenge for schools to have separate budgets but to operate strategically and plan a single pooled budget. However, by anticipating potential problems arising from a pooled budget and thinking about how to deal with these issues, you can avoid future conflict. You should also have a discussion with your local authority about how to ensure that reporting requirements are not a barrier, and are efficient, manageable and tailored to your specific situation. Financial management Whenever budgets are being pooled and shared, there is potential for challenges to arise when schools feel that resource and budget allocation is not being done fairly. Furthermore, due to potential fluctuations in school rolls, it may be that a system which used to work fairly no longer reflects the current school sizes, which can lead to feelings of frustration. Ensure that you maintain clear and open avenues of discussion relating to resources and budget. You may also wish to conduct regular reviews to ensure current resource allocation accurately reflect the needs and context of all schools in the federation. Resource and budget allocation In federations where multiple leadership structures have been absorbed into one new structure, it may take some time to determine the best way of working for school leaders. You may experience leadership-related challenges such as role duplication, lack of clarity surrounding roles and responsibilities and personality clashes. While there is no easy way to avoid leadership conflicts, it is important to identify any potential issues early, and, when the issues are reasonably serious, to consider whether the operating structure you have implemented is actually the best choice for your federation. Leadership challenges

5 Considering new projects While the formal implementation phase is over, you may still want to pursue new opportunities, both within your collaboration or federation and with external bodies. New structures At any point in your collaboration, you may choose to take the next step and become a more formal collaboration or federation. There are a number of reasons why you may decide to move from a collaboration to a collaborative governance arrangement or a federation, such as the desire to realise new benefits or the discovery that you share working cultures and practices with partner schools. Moving to a more formalised federation structure is a major time investment – however, much of the hard work determining the suitability of proposed partners will already be behind you. New projects Within your existing collaboration or federation you may identify a new project which you are interested in pursuing, such as introducing a new extracurricular option across schools, entering into a new shared contract, or developing new career opportunities for staff. Regardless of the complexity and scale of the opportunity, all new projects should be discussed across partner schools. It can be helpful to compare the cost, risks and non-financial and financial benefits for proposed projects. You also need to ensure that you maintain active, timely communication, and effectively manage your major stakeholder groups. Need for consistency Although you may be drawn to new projects or taking new steps to formalise your collaboration or federation further, it is important to balance the drive to implement new activities with the need for regularity within your organisation. Keep in mind that staff, parents, pupils, governors and the community at large may have undergone a massive change, and are not likely to immediately embrace any new project which requires another significant change. While the success of your collaboration or federation is largely dependent on its ability to realise benefits and to capitalise on opportunity, it is also important to normalise your new working model through routine and consistency, such that the collaboration or federation becomes ‘business as usual’ for all relevant stakeholders. October 2010

6 Although the daily opportunities and challenges of operating a federation or collaboration are very consuming of both time and resource, forward planning is important also in the event of changing contexts, departing staff members and, potentially, a climate where being in a federation is no longer advantageous. Looking ahead Throughout the collaboration or federation lifecycle, staff members and potentially senior leadership team members will leave. Losing staff can pose a major problem when you have not spent sufficient time preparing for a sudden drop in staff capability and time. Take the time to design a plan for how you will act when / if key staff members move on, such that you can take appropriate immediate action as soon as someone leaves (even if that means leaving a position deliberately vacant, to reduce role duplication). Succession planning Schools are dynamic places, and the makeup of schools – including roll levels, standards, facilities, and staff – is often changing. Thus, it is possible that as time passes, your federation or collaboration will no longer be tailored to suit the needs of your specific context. It is important to be aware of changing school environment and characteristics, and to ensure that you respond to changes and plan accordingly. Anticipating change It is possible that, in the future, you will decide to end your collaboration or federation, and you need to be prepared for that possibility to minimise the negative effects of the collaboration breaking up. You should consider issues like the impact on staff, budgets and the potential requirements in terms of skills and asset transfer if your collaboration or federation were to break up. Ending the collaboration October 2010

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