Worcestershire County Council's Cabinet today approved the recommendation of appointing Babcock International Group to deliver Learning and Achievement services to children and young people.
Learning and Achievement services are services that are offered by the county council to schools and settings to support children and young people. These services could be direct support offered to a pupil, such as educational psychology, or services that train school staff, such as specialist teaching or learning support.
The decision to commission Learning and Achievement services was approved by the county council's Cabinet in April 2014. The decision was reached because of the continuing need to improve educational standards and to reflect the changing relationships that the council has with schools. In recent years there has already been a significant shift to focus services in areas of greatest need, principally for underperforming schools, and the needs of vulnerable groups of learners. Over this period, educational outcomes have improved significantly for many young people and which is reflecting in the figure of 88% of schools being judged as good or outstanding by Ofsted. The commissioning of Learning and Achievement will enable the Council to effectively maintain its overview of improving outcomes for pupils by giving schools more responsibility and holding Babcock to account for achieving key performance targets.
Babcock is the UK's largest provider of support services to schools, academies and multi-academy trusts. They currently work with over 50 local authorities across the UK and they employ over 600 education specialists. In 2004 they created Babcock 4S – a joint venture with Surrey County Council to develop a new approach for improving local authority education support services and school effectiveness whilst reducing costs. In 2012 they created Babcock LDP with Devon County Council to bring together quality assurance expertise in the South West to raise education outcomes and deliver effective support to schools and academies.
Cllr John Campion, Worcestershire County Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Families said: "We're pleased that Babcock has been approved by Cabinet to deliver Learning and Achievement services to children and young people in Worcestershire.
We are committed to continuing to drive up our educational standards whilst delivering services at a competitive cost for the tax payer, and I believe that the commissioning of these services will allow us to achieve this.
We are confident that Babcock will be able to develop and improve our service to deliver the right support to enable the educational outcomes of our children and young people to strive."
JJ Bowley, Education Services Director at Babcock said: “This is a forward looking approach to the delivery of core education services in the Worcestershire region. Babcock is committed to fulfilling the contract’s aims of raising education standards and investing resources to improve opportunities for young people and children in Worcestershire.
Babcock and Worcestershire County Council will work in partnership to derive significant savings whilst simultaneously improving services and facilities for local people. This is critical at a time of austerity when reduced funding and the drive for improved outcomes have placed unprecedented pressure on local government.”
The council and Babcock are now working on a detailed transitions plan and services will be delivered by the new provider in October 2015.