I’m attending the Association of Directors of Social Work conference in Crieff.
One the key themes emerging is that of personalisation of services to users. The social work field is light years ahead of education in terms of using a mixed economy system for delivering services, by commissioning others from the private and voluntary sector to provide a wide range of short and laong term requirements.
As I was listening to the presentations my mind turned to how education might develop such a model. It’s been something I’ve been considering for a while but the cogs seemed to click together this morning.
The starting point for this is how do we really devolve services to our communities?
What follows is definitely “blue sky” and might be disconcerting for some but I’ve found that sometimes we need to start from the extreme perspective if we are to shift our ground.
The local authority would set the local outcomes which schools would have to work towards.
Each child would carry an educational value credit which directly related to money which would go to the school. All other current budgets would be rolled together and added to the educational value credit.
If a child left the school the money would follow them – even part way through a year.
The school would deliver – though a contract – the educational service for the local authority in that community. If the outcomes were not achieved in a given period of time then another service deliverer would have to be employed.
The school would purchase services from the local authority – or other providers e.g. finance support, personnel, staff development and even quality improvement and assurance.
The authority would maintain responsibility for strategic estate planning, such a new school buildings but all other items would be devolved.
Schools in a community could combine their resources to purchase a service from elsewhere.
The pupil support function could also be delivered by a independent unit commissioned by the authority and underpinned by a contract arrangement.
Parents would have a significant role in the strategic direction and monitoring of the school and would be involved in the review of outcomes at the end of a contract period.
I know one of the major concerns would be the fragmentation of the current system which is building very vibrant learning communities where schools work together. However, if we believe that partnership working improves outcomes – and outcomes will be used to judge the effectiveness of a school – then the leverage for it to happen will be even greater than it currently is. In a similar way the need to engage with other agencies would be built into the outcome agreement.