An important part of the service improvement undertaken by Northamptonshire County Council, is the need to significantly improve the educational outcomes for all looked after children and young people (LAC) in care. Early on in the journey, it became clear that to achieve this aim, NCC needs to change the way they support, deliver and manage the personal educational plans (PEP) for LAC by streamlining the process and introducing an electronic PEP system.
An electronic PEP system will help NCC to ensure that all children in care have regular, well-run and well-documented PEP meetings with he social workers, designated teachers in school, the children and their carers, and the Virtual School’s team members. An electronic PEP system will provide instant access to data and information and support the Virtual Schools to ensure that:
- – The PEP process is better coordinated and delivered;
- – The reporting of progress from the PEP process provides accurate and up-to-date live data;
- – There is immediate access to evidence of progress;
- – There us more effective targeting of the available resources;
- – Pupil Premium Plus spends and outcomes are better monitored and evaluated and
- – The ‘Voice of the Child’ is clearly evident throughout the PEP process.After careful consideration of the different aspects and needs of the service, NCC decided to procure the electronic platform developed by eGov Digital, a market leader in this field. The contract for the system was signed in the first few days of September 2015 and on the 2nd November 2015, the system went live.The Virtual Schools team in LSE have been leading on this work. They have been supported internally by a data analyst from the NCC BIPI, a project manager and a business analyst from LGSS and IT. In addition, the experts from Egov Digital have been fundamental for the successful implementation of the system in Northampton; their contribution to the project has been andcontinues to be the key to the success of this enterprise.
Electronic PEP Implementation in Northamptonshire
NCC has about a large number of children in care who attend the over 300+ schools in and out the county. There are over 150 designated teachers (DTs) and about 200 social workers involved in the process, and we should not forget the carers. The scope and the size of the task to move from paper to electronic PEP in such a short time were considerable.
We started the implementation of ePeps in early September 2015; at the first meeting with eGov Digital we agreed to have the system live on the 1st November. Between September and November the project team worked in close collaboration with Gary Daniels and his team in eGov Digital. In the two months we succeeded to:
- Agree the scope, time and deliverables for the project and started the implementation;
- Look at the existing PEP process and bring it in line with the ePEP model;
- Organise extensive training for the key players in the PEP process, i.e. social workers,designated teachers and the Virtual Schools team; The training was delivered in October by eGov Digital; it was very well-delivered and very well-received, which is evidenced by the fact that a number of PEPs were completed in the first week of going live.
- Work on the set up of the Northamptonshire ePEP platform and users.
- Quality-assure the existing LAC and PEP data in NCC and uploading into the ePEP platform.
- Work with IT to ensure that all the prerequisites for the online system and access are inplace and working.
- Communicate the changes and improvements with all stakeholders.The electronic PEP system in Northamptonshire went live as planned on the 2nd November and for the sceptics: there were no major problems; the small issues we encountered, e.g. firewalls not letting emails coming through, these were identified and rectified very quickly. As with every big change, there is a lot more to do in the next few months to support the users through the transition from paper to ePeps, i.e., answer all queries; QA the data and reporting; provide additional training and work on resolving any arising issues.
We are learning as we are moving on and are confident that with the excellent professional support we are getting from eGov Digital and the full engagement from our teams, by the end of next term the electronic PEP system will be fully embedded in the processes and the educational outcomes for the LAC children will see considerable improvement.
Senior Project Manager