Delivery, efficiency and innovation

Supporting a local authority school improvement service to improve performance and increase efficiency

“With the support of Isos we have been through a very challenging process as painlessly as possible. The money spent engaging their expertise has more than paid for itself.”


What did we do? 

Isos were invited by a high performing local authority to carry out a short review of their school improvement service to determine how they could build on their current good performance while making significant cost savings. We were asked to develop short and medium term options for reconfiguring their school improvement services in the future, in order to meet immediate cost pressures in 2010-11 and beyond.

We worked with the local authority to develop a clear analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of their existing school improvement service, based on structured interviews and workshops with headteachers, analysis of the data, and meetings with senior school improvement service staff. We then benchmarked the local authority’s spend on school improvement services and performance against neighbouring authorities to get an indication of value for money. Finally we carried out a study of how the main school improvement service, comprising around 35 members of staff, spent their time across a range of common functions and tasks and identified opportunities for efficiencies.

What difference did we make?

With these inputs we then worked alongside senior managers in the authority to develop immediate proposals for cost-savings in 2010/11 and to generate options for the future configuration of the service which would create a stronger partnership with local schools and make better use of the expertise embedded in classrooms.

We helped the local authority differentiate between their core work, time-bound improvement priorities, and non-core work, as well as exploring opportunities for greater investment by schools in services provided by the local authority. The recommendations for both cost savings and the future design of the service were welcomed by senior managers and agreed with schools.

The local authority improved its GCSE performance at a rate faster than the national average in 2009/10 and is moving towards a leaner, more partnership based model of improvement in the future. The framework developed by Isos for considering different efficiency options has been used in the council more widely to support ongoing discussions about savings.

What was the feedback on our work?

“Working through the model with Isos meant that the whole service where involved in a policy and impact led review, rather than feeling that decisions were imposed on them. A simple model helping us identify core services, and services that could potentially be purchased was extremely helpful and has been used more widely across the Borough to support our medium term financial planning. With the support of Isos we have been through a very challenging process as painlessly as possible. The money spent engaging their expertise has more than paid for itself.”