Case study: Department for Education and Northamptonshire Children's Trust
Updated: Aug 9
Client: Department for Education
Date: August 2019 - March 2021
Challenges faced by the client: Due to the continued poor performance of children’s social care services, on 10th June 2019 the DfE issued a Statutory Direction to Northamptonshire County Council, to work with the Secretary of State for Education and the Children’s Services Commissioner towards the establishment of a wholly-owned council company for the delivery of children’s social care services in Northamptonshire (the children’s services trust).
This was a large and complex programme with multiple workstreams, from service design to performance frameworks to outsourced support service arrangements. There was significant additional complexity due to the future creation of two unitary Councils in the County, with both new authorities established on 1st April 2021, shortly after the Trust went live (1st November 2020).
The DfE commissioned MV to work alongside the Council and Trust officials to support the programme, providing assurance and subject matter expertise, to ensure the successful establishment of a sustainable children’s trust.
Support offered: MV worked with senior stakeholders from across the County Council, Department for Education and Ministry for Communities, Housing and Local Government, to ensure the safe, legal and timely establishment of the Trust. Our approach was informed by a deep commitment to ensuring that this significant public service reform programme resulted in improved outcomes for children and families across Northamptonshire. This required us to design and facilitate a partnership approach to addressing challenging timeframes and a range of complex contextual factors.
MV’s remit included the design of the programme, involving the development of a programme governance structure, programme plan and the building up of the programme team, jointly staffed by MV and Council stakeholders. MV also provided programme assurance, ensuring the timely and thorough completion of key workstreams, including defining and agreeing the scope of the Trust, establishing Trust leadership and governance structures and support for the County Council in securing key approvals. MV was also tasked to perform due diligence of existing processes, systems and assets and quality assure all deliverables produced.
Other workstreams we supported focussed on the transferring of staff and contracts to the new organisation and establishing robust property arrangements. We also provided additional support to the finance workstream, making use of our strategic finance expertise to 'hold the pen' on the creation of a robust budget for the Trust, requiring us to challenge Council assumptions when appropriate. Our support in this area was designed to ensure that Trust has the requisite budget to deliver high-quality social care to children and young people.