The School Improvement Offer

Frequently Asked Questions

How is the council contributing to reduce the cost of the service?

The council's commitment to reducing the cost of the service to schools has already been applied to the pricing structure for the core package. As a result schools investing in the service will pay no more than the amount they were contributing as part of de-delegation in previous years.  

Where does the top slice come in under the offer?

From April 2018 Schools Forum will not be asked to agree an additional ‘top slice’ or de-delegation, to fund any of the services outlined in the Standards Team School Improvement Offer. The offer has been designed so that no school will pay in excess of £34 a head for the core package, which is in line with the current de-delegation rate that schools have had this year. For some schools the offer will cost significantly less per head than the current de-delegation.

If a school choose not to subscribe, how would the council contribute to ensuring no child is disadvantaged?

If a school chooses not to invest in the core package the universal provision available to all schools enables the council to carry out its statutory functions and accountability duty for Standards to ensure that no child is disadvantaged. 

What does the universal provision involve?

The universal provision enables the Local Authority to meet their statutory duties and responsibilities for accountability e.g.  safeguarding, compliance and meeting minimum standards. This is provided for all schools in Southwark. For leaders committed to maintaining or improving standards in their schools we would recommend investing in the core package to ensure guaranteed access to high quality partnership and challenge where it is most needed.

How does this fit with the HR and Governors package that schools are already paying for?

The school improvement offer is currently a separate package to the Human Resources (HR) and Governors Service Level Agreements and will need to be purchased separately. However the HR and Governors teams are part of the wider Standards team so the joined up approach to the service and the established working relationships will continue to ensure schools receive the highest quality of service.  In the future we have plans to bring all agreements together in one to make it simpler and easier for schools to access the services they need.   

How does the offer work strategically providing differentiated support for schools some of whom will need more support but wont have any more money?  

In order to ensure that the offer is as simple as possible all schools have the same access to the core provision to work on the priorities identified by the leadership. We are happy to plan with leaders in schools to help them meet the costs of the level of support they need and aim to be as flexible and targeted as possible in delivering the service to ensure it meets needs.

Will the Adviser and Consultant visits run in the financial year as opposed to the academic?

The Adviser and Consultant visits will run in the financial year as opposed to the academic year in line with the payment for the service. We believe this is the simplest and easiest way of entering into the agreement with you and help you to seamlessly meet your needs during the transition period from the current arrangement. 

If I require half termly visits by Advisers is this included under the bespoke package?

As part of the core package schools have access to 6 half day, named Senior Adviser visits per year. In agreement with the Senior Adviser, school leaders can choose to use these visits as they wish to meet the needs of their school. These may be used as half termly visits or concentrated at a particular time of the year. If additional days are required they may be purchased as part of the bespoke package, stand alone evaluation and appraisal days or additional adviser days.

What happens if all the days aren’t used? Can they be rolled over?

We would advise schools to plan to use all the days available at the beginning of the financial year and secure the time of the Adviser and Consultants in advance as days can not be rolled over to the new financial year. 

How will it work for federations? 

In order to meet the needs of individual schools federations will be offered two options for investment; either as an individual school package or as a federation package. Each of these offers will be subject to a different pricing point and offer.

For example if schools within a federation choose to buy in separately the price for the package will be dictated by their group size as individual schools (in line with the £34 a head cap promise). Each school will then have access to their own individual core package.

If these schools choose to buy in as a federation the price for the package will be dictated by their combined group size (in line with the £34 a head cap promise) and the federation will then have access to one core package to be used across the federation.

Can I share the provision with another school? 

Provision can only be shared between schools if they are federated and have entered into a School Improvement Offer Federation agreement. 

What discounts are available?

The core package on its own is very good value for money due to the council's commitment to ensuring that the cost of investing in the service is affordable for schools. The offer to fix rates for three years for schools investing over a longer period of time is a key part of this commitment to ensuring good value for money.  In addition, for schools investing in the core package we are able to offer preferential rates for the additional services such as the bespoke packages to keep costs at highly competitive and affordable rates.

How much are the resource discounts worth?

For schools buying into the core package, depending on their size and requirements, it is possible to make considerable savings on particular resources. The savings associated with the core package are detailed below

Resource Detail Actual or potential saving
Assigned credits to be redeemed against selected high quality CPD Schools will be assigned 6 CPD credits per year. This is the equivalent of 2 full day courses, 3 half days, or 6 twilight sessions or a combination of the sessions.  Up to a maximum of £330
Subscription to Comparison and Analysis of Special Pupil Assessment (CASPA) The standard 12 months, undiscounted license fee is £975 £975
Discounted subscription to The Key 

School are entitled to a 15% discount on either The Key for School Leaders, The Key for School Governors, or the CPD Toolkit

For schools wishing to purchase a full package there is a 20% discount.

For a school with numbers on roll of between 101-200 children purchasing The Key for School Leaders there is a saving of £89.25

For a school with numbers on roll of between 201-400 children purchasing The Key for School Leaders there is a saving of £101.25

Reduced cost of personalised Super School Profile The standard undiscounted cost is £600 £100
   

Savings of £1,506.25*

* based upon an average number on roll of between 201-400 children.

How can I be confident that your charges are in line with others? 

We have conducted market research into the costs for like for like commitment and support for school improvement from a dedicated in house team and believe that our prices are in line with others. We are confident that they offer very good value for money for a high quality service. 

Can we buy in at a later date?

We would welcome any school wishing to invest in the service at any point during the year. Those investing in the early stages will benefit from the fixed rate for three years whilst those choosing to buy in later will be subject to increased prices. 

Can we buy in 2 years instead of 3? Will it be the same price?

Schools investing in the offer for three years will benefit from the fixed rate. Those choosing to commit to the service for fewer years will be subject to increased prices.

I am happy with the current serivce but would like to know more about quality assurance in the future.

The work of the team is quality assured both internally and externally and these processes will remain in place, for example, by STA with moderation in KS1 and KS2. Our commitment to ensuring that standards are maintained within the team remains within the new offer through careful succession planning and regular contact with all stakeholders. 

What would happen if your Adviser left? How much choice would you have?

We will continue to ensure that we succession plan effectively and maintain the high standards of the team during any planned or unplanned transitions. We also value established working relationships and where possible in line with our own service plan aim to ensure that the needs of the school are considered carefully when new Advisers are appointed. This will be outlined fully in the terms and conditions of the agreement. 

What if I want to change my Adviser?

All schools signing up to the offer agreement will have access to the terms of conditions of the service. The strength of the service is in our relationships with schools and we will continue to value these and where possible in line with our service plan aim to ensure that the needs of the school are considered carefully when service delivery is being planned. This will be outlined fully in the terms and conditions. 

What if you want to cancel? Is there an opt out?

In accordance with the terms and conditions there will be no option to cancel or opt out until the end of a financial year in order for us to plan the service effectively. Refunds will not be made for schools choosing to disenagage with the service part way through a year.

If there is a change in leadership does the commitment remain?

The commitment to invest in the service is made by the whole leadership team for the duration of the agreement on behalf of the whole school community. We are committed to providing these services as outlined in the agreement with the school and any changes in leadership will not impact on our commitment to delivering these services.

What is the process if we have not been 'satisfied' with the provision i.e. it’s not having an impact?

Any concerns raised will be dealt with in the usual way through the service leads and will be subject to the terms and conditions of the agreement.  

What if only 35 schools sign up? Will there still be a service?

Following the introduction event we have received very positive feedback about the offer and are confident that a significant proportion of schools will invest in the service. As part of the rationale for the costings presented to schools we do have a minimum number for investment to ensure the current service and the offer that we are presenting is viable. However we are committed to providing a service to schools and in the unlikely event that the minimum number of schools is not reached we have plans in place to redesign the offer and prioritise particular services.

I'm keen to buy. How do I pay?

Payment in full will be accepted online through the schools website. This facility will be available from January onwards. Payment for the service will need to be received prior to and within a window of opportunity at the beginning of the new financial year. Any payments received outside of this window may incur additional charges.

What is the deadline for signing up to the offer?

February half term in order to benefit from the early sign up fixed rates and to enable us to plan effectively for the service moving forward.

What is the longer term vision?

The longer term vision is to create a further joined up offer that combines existing Service Level Agreements into one easily accessible package to make it simpler and easier for schools to access the services they need.  We also remain committed to evaluating and improving the quality of the service to ensure it meets changing needs and to working in partnership with schools to design a service fit for the future.