UNITE’s Questions for the Meeting of the County Council – Wednesday 21 May 2014

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Q 1 Support Services for Education (SSE)

1 a i) There will be additional costs (increased costs of overheads for the new entity, whatever form e.g. commercial rents, Business Rates/NNDR, tax liabilities (VAT, Corporation), insurance etc associated with both the SSE models, how is it envisaged that these be funded?

1 a ii) Are income streams predictable and measurable? 

1 b) Will these costs have to be met through staff reductions, redundancies, reduced hours etc or is it envisaged that charges to Schools will be increased to cover these costs?  

1 c) Will staff have any options regarding (if there is?) a transfer, e.g. redeployment, secondment, TUPE, redundancy? 

1 d) Has the scope of services been updated and consulted/discussed with parents, (students) and professional bodies etc…? 

1 e) Will this Council follow the best practice example of Avon & Somerset Police for custody services, where the in-house bid (with a service innovation & improvement plan) was retained until all bids were in, to act as a cost baseline comparator and to ensure best value? 

(Note: The Police found that the in-house bid was significantly cheaper than the external bids (and with lower risk); had the in-house bid been ruled out as a viable option early on in the procurement process, then the costs to the taxpayer would have risen and the innovation and improvement skills in-house would have been lost.)

1 f) Will SSE be subject to Ofsted Inspections? 

1 g) What contract/service lengths are being considered (4+ years?) 

1 h) What will be the governance mechanisms to deal with “disputes” between schools/parents/the Local Authority (and private sector contractors)?

1 i) How will SCC be accountable at Special Education Needs (SEN) Tribunals?

1 j) How will the current (computer) systems be managed/changed (maintenance, capital investment, licences and operating costs)?

 

1 k) If certain services are subsequently retained (post service set up) how will changes in services be managed and monitored?

1 m) Will the proposed decrease in (MTFP) Finance and Business Development “costs” equate to a like for like increase in SSE “costs”?

1 n) Which service model will maximise transparency and disclosure (e.g. Freedom of Information)?

1 o) If the “partner” model is “chosen” how will the scrutiny and transparency arrangements be put in place to maximise public accountability?

1 p) When is it expected for SSE to be fully functioning?    

1 q) Are these services (approximately) currently in scope 

·         School Improvement; including a dedicated school improvement advisory team, curriculum support, school data and assessment and school governor support;

·         Curriculum Enrichment; including digital media facilities, outdoor learning, school library and music services;

·         Inclusion Services and Learner Support: including educational psychology and Special Educational Needs;

·         Workforce Training and Development; including leadership, supporting and promoting continuous professional development and working with Newly Qualified Teachers;

·         Business Management and Resources; including finance, contracts, quality management, personnel and resources?

 

Q 2 Learning Disability Provider Service (LDPS)

 

2 a) Will SCC follow the best practice example of Avon & Somerset Police for custody services, where the in-house bid (with a service innovation & improvement plan) was retained to act as a cost baseline comparator and to ensure best value? 

2 b) Will the ownership structure be developed to ensure the new service “falls” within Schedule 1 of the Freedom of Information Act?

 http://www1.somerset.gov.uk/council/board1/2014%20May%2021%20Agenda.pdf

http://www1.somerset.gov.uk/council/meetings/reports.asp?item=1048

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