Essex County Council Education Estates Strategy

We identified 27 different ways of using the education estate to raise funds to invest in education facilities for both children and adults. By talking to employers, the jobless and people with long term issues of numeracy and literacy, we were able to propose a fully funded plan (from existing assets) that shows what facilities are most needed where. So far over £80M has been raised to invest in the education estate by adopting these approaches.

Aligned with a procurement strategy that promotes spending differently but wisely, ECC’s education estates strategy ensures that public funds are used to solve problems within communities rather than to ‘maintain the status quo’.

We prepared special packs for each stakeholder so they each understood first hand the details of the approach.

Insight: Essex Council has over 1200 children’s services related properties. The remit for their education estates strategy is to make ‘entrepreneurial proposals’ that bring investment into the education estate to meet the needs and future demands on Essex County Council.

In order to really understand the brief we structured the challenge, which enabled us to understand the needs/demands of each service area eg. Special Educational Needs and Disability and Adult Community Learning. Then we wrote two supporting reports – Alternative Funding Sources and Procurement, Specification and Delivery.

Process: We discussed and agreed the proposed objectives, scope and timetable for the work. We gathered sample data which showed the demands on the education estate and gave examples of alternative funding approaches for debate.

Our process meant that we became closely involved at ground level – working with all schools across Essex, different service providers to identify needs, talking with parents outside schools, talking to employers and further/higher education institutions etc.

Once we had worked out the key needs, we went on to identify funding opportunities and challenged standard procurement practice.

Using an ethnographic approach to improve service delivery and the customer experience

We are currently working on a research and design project to transform the way local councils engage with residents. This means moving way from face to face contact towards more technology led communications and results in improved customer experience (e.g. reduced waiting times, flexibility with timings etc.) where customers/users willingly choose to use the right channel in the right place at the right time.

Insight: Perducta frequently attempts to understand the behaviour and culture of an organisation by analysing the people within it, wherever they are, while they’re doing whatever it is they do.

It means entering someone’s ‘world’ for a while, be it for a couple of hours or a couple of days, or for some ambitious clients, a couple of months.

This approach is called ethnographics. A major difference between ethnography and other types of research lies in the depth and intimacy of data collection.

Process: Our approach is founded upon quantitive data analysis which provides the foundation for insight. It gives us our key lines of enquiry. By taking this further and applying an ethnographic approach – this provides the real insight into what’s going on. It gives us the clues to where the problems/challenges are.

Ethnography researchers don’t go into the field with too many preconceived notions or with a script; they take on the role of ‘non-participant/observer’, as if they’ve ‘just arrived on Earth’.

We let the people we talk to lead the way and they tell us what is important with their words and their actions. Because of this, results become more vivid and real. Our findings are richer and deeper than those produced by more traditional methods (eg. focus groups). Our insights become not only actionable, but hard-hitting and memorable.

We work in partnership with Flywheel, a user centric consultancy who help organisations design themselves and all their touchpoints around users’/customers’ needs.

School improvement and special educational needs action plan for Peterborough City Council (PCC)

Metrics such as attainment, NEETs, attendance, reduced out of city placements will be tracked and these will measure the impact of the Peterborough City Council school improvement action plan.

Insight: Perducta were appointed to support PCC to review education provisions in light of the changing role of local authorities.

Our team comprised the best national experts in their field and their expertise supported the internal change team with SEN, school improvement, education and strategic project management, focusing on best/next practices and what had worked elsewhere.

Peterborough’s schools were underperforming but were committed to becoming a strategic commission authority and recognised the need for improvement.

Perducta were asked to build on existing diagnostic work on the effectiveness of their school improvement, SEN and disabilities strategies.

Process: We benchmarked the best performing authorities and produced an options appraisal which included key themes: equity; early intervention and prevention; culture change; a willingness to challenge; building strong relations and quality assurance to ensure excellent practice.

We drew up school improvement and SEN strategy which considered the growing but unstable market, as well as untapped strength within Peterborough’s own school system.

It also incorporated Peterborough’s broader responsibilities to achieve education excellence and fair access to services for all young people.

We produced presentations, surveys and research and attended meetings to promote the recommendations.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) provision for secondary age children in Bromley

We provided Bromley with a robust model showing the predicted number/type (not just ASD) of children they needed to provide for over the next 20 years. This outcome helped reduce costs, increase provision and improve the experience of young people with SEN (ASD). Bromley Council, one of the pathfinders for the SEND green paper and families bill, are currently piloting some of the government’s ideas and much of this model has been fed into the paper.

Insight: Bromley Council has a growing number of children with SEN (ASD) and were unable to predict future numbers. They were also unsure about the best provision to meet their needs. We set about investigating all SEN (ASD) children in Bromley. The first task was to calculate a pupil placed planning model to determine how many children there were in the borough with autism/SEN. We found that often, a child’s condition was not picked up until transition into secondary school. The stable, familiar and consistent environment of a primary school was unknowingly covering up the child’s condition.

Process: Having completed the model we went on to gather data on provision. Working closely with professionals we gained an insight into what these children needed during their school life. We designed a curriculum and a building that would not only take them through school life, but also provide for future children with a range of special needs. The third task was to examine ways to reduce the reliance on out of borough placements and independent residential settings. We gathered a considerable amount of data, including a chronology on each SEN (ASD) secondary aged child, culminating in a cost breakdown related to outcomes achieved.

Royal Borough of Kingston and London Borough of Croydon: Building Schools for the Future Programme – 2008-2010

We worked across both authorities to provide leadership to the joint BSF ‘Transforming Croydon and Kingston Schools’ programme. This involved delivering a change management programme across children’s services and renewing the secondary schools estate (40 schools) through a capital investment programme of over £700M.

In Croydon the academies and primary investment was circa £200M.

Insight: Jo Twine and her team have experience in depth in delivering major capital programmes.

Process: The team’s project management skills and construction programme knowledge enable Perducta to support multi-million pound contracts.