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Partnership for Schools launches toolkit for best practice

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Partnership for Schools (PfS) has unveiled a ‘toolkit’ for effective local education partnerships (LEP)

The guidance highlights nine objectives to be followed, highlighting good practice and recommended issues to consider throughout the lifetime of the LEP, from strategic planning and mobilisation through to the operational phase. It draws upon findings from last year’s review of operational LEPs by PricewaterhouseCoopers and is intended to inform both existing and future LEPs and their respective stakeholders who are engaged in BsF projects nationwide.

Tim Byles, chief executive of PfS, said: ‘As the BSF programme continues to accelerate with more local authorities due to join the programme shortly, it is important that we help spread best practice about genuine partnership working between the public and private sectors and share some of the practical realities and considerations that both need to think through in relation to Local Education Partnerships.

‘Put simply, if the LEP does not work to its potential, neither public nor private sectors will fully meet their shared or individual objectives, and so making the partnership work effectively is in the interests of all. As we gear up for the delivery of the second half of the BSF programme, I hope the new Toolkit will stimulate discussion, disseminate existing good practice and help embed long-term partnering behaviours throughout the set-up and operational phases to improve delivery and outcomes.’

The Toolkit for Effective Local Education Partnerships can be downloaded from:http://www.partnershipsforschools.org.uk/library/Local_Education_Partnerships_Toolkit.jsp

The nine practitioner notes are:

1. Local Authority Strategic Planning

This note recommends that effective corporate leadership is needed from the outset; that a clear vision about the role of the LEP is required; and that wide-ranging – but realistic – discussions about the LEP role should take place to define what projects or programmes beyond BSF could be delivered by the LEP.

2. The LEP’s role in Education Transformation

This note focuses on ways to promote education transformation throughout the BSF process and into the LEP’s operational phase. It suggests that Key Performance Indicators and Collective Partnership Targets are enshrined within the contractual relationship to keep the goal of education transformation centre stage.

3. Developing a Shared Vision

This note looks at why developing a shared vision is crucial for successful LEPs, including the need for a governance structure and performance management systems which support the delivery of this vision.

4. Effective Governance

This note recommends establishing a shadow LEP Board at Selected Bidder stage; making the best use of existing local authority resources to provide expert assistance; and using external third party support to review the governance framework to maintain an effective operational governance structure. It also suggests that the LEP Board includes an independent, non-executive chair.

5. Mobilising the LEP

This note examines the challenging transition period from the planning to the operational phase. It suggests the creation of a ‘Transition Team’ at the Selected Bidder stage with responsibility for planning and setting up the internal operating structures of the new LEP, and practical steps to take such as the physical co-location of teams.

6. Effective Partnering Behaviours

This note highlights how managers need to set the tone for the kind of partnership they wish to see and how good role models are necessary. It suggests the development of partnering protocols which sets out how the LEP does business internally, and how it works with external stakeholders.

7. Capacity to Deliver

This note looks at the resourcing necessary for effective operational LEPs and how this will need to flex depending on the stage of the project. It also recommends that multi-disciplinary teams with different skill sets are necessary to deliver the project successfully.

8. The Role of the National Bodies

This note considers the role of national bodies – including DCSF, PfS, BSFI, 4ps and others – involved in the BSF programme from programme inception through to the operation of the LEP.

9. Value for Money in Exclusivity

This note focuses on how LEPs can continue to demonstrate value for money beyond procurement and into the operational phase. It highlights how value for money is tested, and suggests the development of a balanced scorecard approach to ensure a holistic assessment of key measures.

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