Once schools have begun to collaborate, the first realisable benefit is the opportunity to make use of a strength in numbers and in economies of scale. Clusters can commission services from a variety of sources. The obvious partners are the different agencies represented within the local Childrens Trust and who are charged with and funded for the realisation of the requirements of the local Childrens Plan. Schools need to know what they need and to express this clearly. Other potential partners can include Universities (for Masters and Foundation Degrees), Providers of Initial Teacher Training (for specific subjects and year expertise). Some clusters have successfully commissioned ICT solutions. Charities and other representatives of the Third Sector are also potential partners. Bartering with neighbouring clusters is another possibility. The opportunities are there.
I went for a wintry walk with my daughter Emily this afternoon. She works for the NSPCC and we were talking about how our working lives may overlap in the future. Linking the NSPCC to individual schools and establishing a firm relationship based on awareness of ChildLine should be part of the new move to put clusters of schools in direct contact with the voluntary sector. This of course also applies to a wide range of stakeholders. With the current review of the role of Training Schools by TDA, I’ve been thinking about how all this will fit with the development of Childrens’ Trusts and I shall be continuining with this theme over the next few weeks.