A familiar phenomenon in education is that those who need the most support are usually the furthest away from receiving it. Whether this is the parents of the students most in need but least likely to be seen at a parents evening, or the schools on the edge, schools who may be the hardest to engage in a cluster. With a good deal of instability around the future role of Local Authorities or Childrens Services and the prospect of more stand alone academies and parent run schools, one might ask who is going to keep an eye on this free for all.
It is perhaps to the US we could look for a model that could be adapted here – the concept of the School Superintendent. We may even have had such a role ourselves in a previous age. The Superintendent has the power (through a Board or elected Committee) to intervene to support local groups of schools. They might broker arrangements to ensure that all schools are supported through clusters and help prevent situations where different types of schools go it alone. They might also relieve some of the pressure of Head Teachers by representing the cause for the strategic local interests and support the move to integrated agency approaches at a local level. You obviously need the right person in the job but then that’s true of all posts in education.