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School effectiveness

Management partnerships

What is a management partnership?

A management partnership is when two or more schools come together to share strategic leadership. This may be if a school is without their own substantive head, but can also be put in place where there is a substantive head in post in each of the schools. The schools remain completely separate and retain their own individual governing bodies. A distinct advantage of a management partnership is that the distance between the schools need not be a barrier if travelling and work life balance matters are managed sensibly.
The partnership is formalised through a contract which lays out the terms and remit of that partnership. A joint committee of governors would oversee the arrangement and regularly assess and report on the workings of the management partnership arrangement. Management partnerships are usually short term or temporary interventions (generally for a period of one year initially). A number of contractual issues may need to be resolved if shared leadership becomes a long-term arrangement.

Who decides on a management partnership?

There will be a number of different reasons why a management partnership will be considered as an appropriate arrangement for schools. The Local Authority might suggest a management partnership if a school has been unable to recruit or needs experienced leadership to address challenging school improvement issues. Governors can also drive the process themselves and may approach another governing board with a formal proposal. What matters most is that there is an agreement between the governors and the Local Authority that a management partnership is the most suitable option for the school at that time and will bring clear benefits for the pupils in those schools. Finance and recruitment will play their part but the benefits of securing strong and experienced leadership and its impact raising standards must drive the decision-making process. Where applicable the Diocese will be involved, particularly if schools wish to work in Church school pairings.

What’s involved in setting up a management partnership?

  • Set up a joint committee of governors using the governance collaboration regulations with formal terms of reference to work out the detail for the contract and oversee the operational arrangements and strategic impact
  • Work out the total cost of the partnership for the schools (on-costs beyond headteacher time) and agree levels and timings of payment
  • Draw up and formally agree an exit strategy with potential triggers and timeframe for withdrawal
  • Synchronise school calendars and events to avoid clashes of dates
  • Keep travelling time and work life balance issues under review
  • Make sure that roles and responsibilities for all staff are clear
  • Agree the headteacher’s salary point so that it reflects levels of responsibility (may need to reconsider the ISR). Performance Management arrangements will reflect both shared and separate targets
  • Align and share key external partners and support services e.g. finance and HR
  • Ensure positive parental communication and seek their perception of the arrangements
  • Invite external support and evaluation to develop the partnership

Case study

A tale of two schools in a partnership agreement

Many schools are looking at different ways of collaborating and working together to benefit the pupils in their own and neighbouring schools. David Santillo, Chair of Governors at Stoke Canon C of E Primary School writes of the board’s experiences in exploring different ways of working.


A guide to Management Partnerships
Devon schools partnership register January 2023