Bristol City Council: Trading with Schools

Background

The education system is undergoing rapid change at both national and local levels. Government policy is promoting the expansion of the academy and free school programme, changing the structural configuration of educational provision, diversifying the range of educational providers and significantly changing established accountability frameworks. 

As the main provider of universal services, schools are responsible for their own improvement and have autonomy and control of budgets, resources and partnership arrangements. Schools procure their own services. There is a national expectation that schools will increasingly exercise choice from a wide range of providers. 

Whilst Local Authorities have a continuing and significant role to play in education, the nature of this role and the means through which it is exercised is changing. The role is changing to one of providing strategy, quality and commissioning services.

Bristol has reviewed its strategic and commercial relationships with schools, academies and educational settings in relationship to the changes in the national and local context. There is now a need to trade services with LA maintained schools, academies and other educational settings. 

A Cabinet Report set out a clear model that brings together all schools related services into one trading entity to be retained initially in-house with Bristol City Council (Phase 1). A further Cabinet Report will be presented by our consultant in later this year (Phase 2) that considers further trading models for Trading with Schools (TWS), including potentially setting it up as an entity outside the Council.

Approach 

Andrew Rogers worked alongside service leads across schools related services and corporate services teams to understand the nature of services delivered to schools. He then consulted with stakeholders across a range of educational settings to understand their requirements and establish the types of services required in the future. 

Andrew defined the Target Operating Model for Trading with Schools and worked with finance teams to define the business case for the new entity. The Target Operating Model set out the TWS operating processes as well as the business support processes, it then went on to define the organisational structure for the new entity. Andrew worked alongside HR professionals to define new job descriptions and person specifications for the new structure and he then worked with other programme team members to carry out job evaluations, manage the assimilation of staff to the new structure and train staff in new working practices. 

Those schools services that were considered to be either non-profitable or poor performing were selected for re-modelling. Andrew facilitated this redesign. 

Outcome

The Target Operating Model and Business Case for TWS became reference documents for all change that then followed. Andrew Rogers became a trusted advisor to Bristol City Council Senior Officers, able to facilitate the migration of staff to the new structure in a way that staff considered to be fair, transparent and justifiable. TWS brought together disparate services into a new entity with more of a commercial focus and a greater emphasis on exceptional customer service. TWS essentially protected the jobs of 150+ staff whilst providing services that schools wanted to buy at a fair price. Andrew’s role in this transformation was pivotal; he was able to win hearts and minds.