Provision for collaboration by education bodies is contained in Part 1 of the Education (Wales) Measure 2011 (EWM 2011). Part 1 sets out the circumstances in which education bodies can or must exercise certain 'powers of collaboration', which can include delegating functions to other education bodies or to joint committees of two or more education bodies.
'Education bodies', as set out in section 1 of EWM 2011 are:
- local authorities in Wales
- governing bodies of maintained schools in Wales
- further education corporations
- governing bodies of certain designated institutions
Section 5(2) of EWM 2011 lists the 'powers of collaboration'; and these are:
"(a) to provide financial assistance (whether by way of grant or loan) to any person;
(b) to enter into arrangements or agreements with any person;
(c) to co-operate with, or facilitate or co-ordinate the activities of, that person;
(d) to exercise on behalf of any person any functions of that person (whether alone or jointly);
(e) to make arrangements for any of the education body's functions to be carried out with one or more other education bodies, or by one or more other education bodies;
(f) to make arrangements for any of the education body's functions to be carried out by joint committees of two or more education bodies;
(g) to provide staff, goods, services or accommodation to any person;
(h) to share and use information for the purpose of exercising any powers of collaboration.”
Further education institutions therefore have powers to collaborate with other further education institutions and with schools and local authorities.
These powers are subject to a restriction in the Collaboration Between Education Bodies (Wales) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/2655). Regulation 4 provides that a further education body may only delegate functions to a joint committee of two or more education bodies if its instrument and articles of government allow it to delegate those functions to a committee.
There is also a general restriction in regulation 4(2) that an education body may not delegate to a joint committee any of its functions in relation to:
“(a) the appointment and dismissal of, and taking disciplinary action against, persons employed under a contract of employment by a local authority;
(b) the dismissal of, and taking disciplinary action against, persons employed under a contract of employment by a further education body;
(c) the dismissal of, and taking disciplinary action against, school staff in the Staffing of Maintained Schools (Wales) Regulations 2006; or
(d) pupil or student discipline.”
Under sections 2 and 3 of EWM 2011, education bodies are under a duty to consider from time to time whether the exercise of their powers of collaboration would further the objective of the 'effective and efficient use of public resources by an education body in respect of the provision of education and training suitable to the requirements of persons who have not attained the age of 19' (the 'collaboration objective').
If an education body determines that the 'collaboration objective' would be furthered by them exercising a power of collaboration then they must seek to exercise the power.
In exercising its collaboration powers an education body must have regard to any guidance issued by the Welsh Ministers under section 7 of EWM 2011.