Clusters in Pennine Lancashire and beyond
The impact of last year’s Comprehensive Spending Review has meant the dissolution of the
extended services infrastructure within local authority. As a result it is the responsibility of individualschools to choose whether to continue to find funding to engage Extended Services Coordinators,whether to work together in clusters and which particular schools to partner with in this way. Thisreport collates the findings of five interviews, four of which were conducted with Extended ServicesCoordinators and the remaining with a head teacher leading a cluster. What this reportdemonstrates is that there are more differences than similarities in the way that schools are workingtogether. The waning emphasis on the achievement of an extended services core offer means thatthese initiatives are no longer the driving force for cluster working that they have been during thelast six years.A headteacher of a Lancashire primary school flags up a number of ways in which schools are
working together and their reasons for doing so, such as Local Children’s Trust Partnerships,
Learning Trusts, and Sports Partnerships (all of which are summarized in Appendix 6
.1 ‘Glossary of terms’
). The interview is summarised in section 2.1.For Extended Services Coordinators, situations vary. One coordinator of a primary schools cluster(2.2), explains funding for her role is only secure until February 2012 meaning she is only able to planfor the next six months. For another interviewee, an extended services coordinator in the east of England (2.3), funding was cut in April 2011 but her cluster of schools valued her work enough tocommit their devolved extended services budget to employing her on a freelance basis. She has
already developed a range of exciting partnerships and projects to help meet the schools’ needs.
Two interviews were conducted with extended services coordinators in secondary schools, inPennine Lancashire (interviews are summarised in 3.1 and 3.2). In the last year, neither haddeveloped significant work with their clusters, and they described a situation of isolation, with theirenergy focused on the attraction of exciting after school activities to appeal to their own pupils andtheir families. Funding for one of these posts is secur
e until August, whereas the other’s s
chool hasattached great value to his work and are committed to keeping him.Each of these interviews worked to foreground the importance of funding and of personalrelationships. Clusters are formed around a funding purpose along with trust and individualpersonalities. If head teachers get along, they will work collaboratively. If they have developed along and trusting relationship with their extended services coordinator, they will strive to maintainthe relationship. Recommendations in section 4 suggest there is potential to galvanise schools intocluster working if it is possible to signpost available funding and inspiring projects from which acollaborative approach will benefit.