School support services – Sandwell MBC
Sandwell Council historically offered a number of education services that received all or part of their income from trading with schools. In the current environment (increasing competition from the private sector and reducing council budgets) it became hard to sustain these traded services as an internal council offering. After a lot of research and consultation, the Council decided to set up a public service mutual to run the school support services, securing approximately 450 jobs and ensuring the continued provision of quality services for schools. Mutual Ventures supported the Council to develop a five year business plan, setting up the governance structure, defining procurement processes and drawing up an implementation strategy. Sandwell Inspired Partnership Services (SIPS) eventually spun out of the Council in 2013.
In early 2014, Tracy Pearce, Chief Executive of SIPS, obtained funding through the Investment Contract Readiness Fund* to receive consultancy support for the growth and development of the organisation. Through this, Mutual Ventures has been supporting Tracy and her team to update business plans, bid for tenders and build internal capacity.
Sarah Wright, Mutual Ventures Consultant: “The challenges for new public service mutuals obviously don’t stop once they have successfully spun out, so it was great to spend time with the SIPS team exploring the ways in which they could develop their service offering and grow in a way that is sustainable. There had been a number of recent changes to the education services landscape (at both a local and national level) that it was important for SIPS to respond to. Our support has included workshops on strategic growth, help to bid for tenders and a full review of service-level business plans.”
Tracy Pearce, Chief Executive, SIPS Education Ltd: “Over the course of 2014, Mutual Ventures provided us with ICRF funded support to assess possible tender opportunities and to develop the actual tender responses, including financial modelling. This support has been instrumental in a number of successful bids from early 2014 including a Workforce and Governance contract and a Teaching and Learning contract. Mutual Ventures have also been delivering commercial awareness training and development for the SIPS team to embed the required skills to enable them to become commercially self-sustaining. Their support was always delivered in a flexible and practical manner with our end goal of securing our initial contract always at the forefront. I would be very pleased to recommend Mutual Ventures support to organisations looking to secure contracts and build a sustainable future.”
*The ICRF fund is now closed but similar support can be accessed through the Social Investment Business’s Big Potential Advanced Fund. Mutual Ventures are approved providers to this fund.