Strategic Planning

Leading stakeholder engagement to support national strategy design for the Welsh Government

“Their support during planning and preparation helped the team refine the focus and clarify objectives, and their facilitation skills meant we got maximum input and remained keenly focussed on the core issues.”

The brief

Isos was commissioned by the Welsh Government to deliver a series of stakeholder engagement and co-production events with key representatives of the special educational needs (SEN) sector in Wales.  This series followed the publication of the Welsh Government's consultation on additional learning needs (ALN) reform in June 2012.  The consultation was well-received: stakeholders welcomed the direction of travel, while emphasising the need for further detail about the reforms.

Isos' brief was to design and deliver a series of stakeholder engagement events in order to support the development of the next stage of the Welsh Government's ALN reform strategy, including the necessary legislative changes.  Each event would focus on a key area of the reform strategy: the definition of need, partnership-working and accountability, assessment and planning, and resolving disputes.

What did we do?

To deliver this brief, Isos designed a rapid problem-solving model to enable the Welsh Government and their key stakeholders to work together to analyse problems and co-develop detailed solutions in a focused, facilitated session.  We reviewed the evidence base and existing systems within Wales, and drew on our knowledge of the Welsh, UK and international education systems to prepare a range of high-quality materials and inputs for each stakeholder event in order to stimulate debate.

At each event, we drew on our extensive experience of facilitating high-stakes symposia and deployed a range of creative facilitation techniques to analyse the current system, to identify what works well and the barriers that get in the way, and to develop a set of detailed and practical proposals.

Attendees at the workshops included head teachers, educational psychologists, local authority SEN officers, health professionals, representatives of third sector organisations, and academics.  Our approach enabled us to draw on this range of expertise and knowledge to build a set of detailed, practical proposals for reform for the next phase of the ALN reform programme.  Our knowledge of SEN systems enabled us to probe and challenge thinking, and helped the Welsh Government and their stakeholders to work through the full implications of different reform strategies in detail.

We then produced a concise report capturing the specific issues identified and solutions put forward under each topic, as well as the key cross-cutting themes to inform the next stage of the reform programme.

What difference did we make?

The series of stakeholder events enabled key representatives of the SEN sector in Wales to come together to consider important areas of the Welsh Government's reform programme, and to work alongside the Welsh Government to develop ways of improving provision for children and young people with additional learning needs.  Those attending the events found them focused, engaging, fast-paced and professionally-run.  This in turn has helped not only to develop the Welsh Government's reform strategy, but also to strengthen their relationships with key stakeholders.

Our final report, summarising the key recommendations developed through the workshops, has been submitted to the Welsh Government and shared within the SEN sector in Wales.  This will be used to inform the Welsh Government's work on the next phase of the ALN reform programme, including the development of the draft legislation they plan to introduce.

What did the client say about the work?

“Isos enabled us to get maximum value from the events.  Their support during planning and preparation helped the team refine the focus and clarify objectives, and their facilitation skills meant we got maximum input and remained keenly focussed on the core issues.”