Posted 1 month ago

Interim required to lead the Corporate Schools Sufficiency Planning Process and school place planning and commissioning service, meeting statutory targets, and ensuring agreed service plans and performance targets are delivered. Lead all school place planning, commissioning, and decommissioning of schools and education services, in order to provide residents with sufficient high quality places in all types of school across the borough, and maintain culture of putting residents first and continuous service improvement.

Job Purpose

  1. People Management
  • Manage the School Place Planning Officer and the Education Development and Building Projects Lead, Project officers.
  • Work closely with the Data and performance officers, SEN Commissioner and colleagues across the council in Education, Data, Finance, Property and Planning.
  • Establish strong working links with relevant DfE officers and project managers in order to progress school improvement projects and new schools across the borough.
  • Initiate and respond to school issues – raised by Members, schools; headteachers, gonging bodies, Trusts, parents, other stakeholders.
  • To be responsible for the selection, development and performance of the School Place Planning and Commissioning service team in line with the Council’s HR policies.
  • To ensure all team members receive the appropriate level of communication to maintain engagement with the Council’s activities.
  1. Customer Management
  • Work with all schools, their headteachers, governors and Trusts, in reviewing and adjusting sufficiency to meet local needs.
  • Prepare bids for funding capital programmes and deliver projects commissioned and funded by the council and DfE to provide extra school places.
  • Respond to DfE statutory and other requests for information and data.
  1. Operational Service Delivery
  • Lead a Corporate Sufficiency Planning Process – Discharge the local authority statutory duty to ensure there are a sufficient number of school places for pupils residents and that places are planned effectively, and changes implemented. Includes early years/nursery through to primary, secondary, post-16, UTCs and including special – and all types of school governance– Community, VA, Foundation, Academy (SAT & MAT) and the differences that apply. January 2022 there were 97 schools with 52,620 pupils.

Practically, this breaks down into:

  • Continuous review pressure for secondary and special places and surplus primary places.
  • Establishing and leading the school places planning process with school partners and practically with teams within the Council to align to the MTFF process for capital resource planning etc. (Business Performance, Finance Capital Lead, Planning Services, Education team leads, Capital projects team etc.)
  • Ensure various analytical tools, data presentations etc. are used – e.g. place based mapping etc.
  • Review the analysis / forecast and lead service teams to achieve an intelligent, risk-based interpretation of the forecast to balance the statutory duty with ensuring the best use of resources. Prepare recommendations.
  • Prepare ‘easy to read’, risk-based briefings for Senior Managers and Cabinet Members setting out the findings of place planning analysis and recommendations, next steps etc.
  1. School Commissioning, Organisation, and Investment Plan
  • Lead on establishing and monitoring a commissioning plan, working with a range of Teams within the Council. This needs to include developing practical plans to achieve the intended provision of places – liaison with Finance, Capital projects team, schools.
  • Prepare and update a Council School Organisation Plan (SOP) annually to reflect changes agreed or being implemented.
  • Set out clearly the consultation / approval processes that need to be followed to achieve changes in Published Admission Numbers – liaison with schools etc. This also needs to include monitoring and reporting delivery to support effective governance.
  • Track capacity / opportunities in the entire ‘school estate’ to ensure underused educational assets be re-purposed to align to the wider Education Strategy.
  1. Liaison / Relationship Building Role with Key Partners
  • The key will be working with schools, regional and national agencies –Regional Schools Commissioner, School Trusts, DfE, ESFA. The proposed new single London DfE Directorate replacing the RSCs and its wider remit will be central to the wider definitions of ‘place planning’ as DfE implements proposals in the March White Paper on Schools and Green Paper on SEND.
  • Further academisation will impact on leases, other school developments and consultation on changes / significant variation to an existing school or academy, pupil rolls, data, capital, land.
  • All this is in the context of Covid still affecting pupils and schools and economic uncertainty driving mobility and roll movements, especially near Heathrow, which is in the borough.
  1. Context and Partnership Working
  • Attending council education partnership groups to brief, present data and proposals such as to HASH, SSPB, primary Forum Executive, Schools Forum, on Schools Learning Education Area Partnership.
  1. Education client for major school building works
  • Commissioning and monitoring for basic need for community schools through the council’s own property service.
  • Co-ordinating the LA interest in the current 13 DfE funded school building projects and Free Schools in the borough. This involves substantial strategic and project detail as the single point of contact into the LA to co-ordinate and drive LA processes – e.g. Pre-Application Planning Advice, Legal Services re: leases, Finance review of funding proposals, signatures to sign-off key docs, liaison with school Head Teachers & Governing Bodies.
  • Leading on the bid for a new Special Free school as part of the DSG Safety Valve Plan.
  • Commissioning and delivering expansion of special school places, with Property team for community schools and working with Trusts and monitoring their plans, particularly where funded by High Needs Capital Grant.
  • Updating and liaising as necessary with Members, DfE project leads, headteachers, Academy Trusts, contractors, and council legal, estates, and planners on the necessary leases, licences, MOU to provide education and other council services and protect the interests of residents.
  1. Statistical Reporting, Monitoring and Governance
  • Prepare statutory reports to DfE such as the annual School Capacity Survey, SCAP, and on specific schools and use as requested throughout the year. Note SCAP currently only covers Primary and Secondary but DfE hopes to add Special in 2023.
  • Regular review and monitoring throughout the year – trends, monitoring school rolls and capacity (primary, secondary, special, post-16), planned admissions numbers, school roll projections and the impact of organisation/timetabling on schools.
  • Preparing reports / briefings for senior managers / Cabinet Member and also Select Committees, preparing responses to FOIs, Questions for Council and so on.
  1. Regional Networking
  • As part of the London School Places Planning Network and Education relevant national LA groups, keep up to date with the latest trends, funding opportunities etc. As they affect the council to inform analysis and commissioning.
  1. Service Planning & Development
  • Ensure that all annual Team Plans, aligned to the Group / Service Plan(s), are developed, agreed, and communicated to team members in a timely manner.
  • Maintain a current service workforce plan including a succession plan for all key roles.
  1. Financial & Resource Management
  • To take responsibility for the effective management of the allocated budget for the service.
  • To ensure all purchasing and procurement is conducted in line with the corporate guidelines with appropriate use of the Council’s financial systems.
  • To ensure that all workforce expenditure is compliant with corporate guidance and that any temporary resource is purchased through the Council’s agency contracts.
  1. Continuous Improvement
  • Implement continuous monitoring of team and individual performance and productivity to ensure the delivery of any Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) are maximised.
  • Manage the implementation of improvement initiatives and change programmes using the Council’s Project Management and Service Improvement methodologies.
  • Any additional role specific responsibilities.
  1. Contacts
  • Primary contact will be with other officers within the Council, all schools, and Trusts, DfE. Also, the representative and partnership groups of schools; Schools Forum,  Association of Secondary Heads (Hash), Primary Forum, Strategic Schools Partnership Board.
  • Termly presentations to Select Committee and monthly to Lead Member.

Key Skills & Experience

  • Degree or equivalent through experience.
  • Understanding and experience of applying DfE standards such as BB103 and BB104 in reviewing schools and planning adaptions, new schools, and SEN provision.
  • Ability to work across a large borough, travelling as required to meetings and events, including occasionally in twilight/ evenings. Site meetings are needed as many were delayed due to Covid.
  • Prepared to work flexibly as required to meet the demands of the role.
  • Leading school place planning and education capital functions, ideally in London.
  • Experience working with many different academy trusts and foundation schools as well as a minority of community schools
  • Experience of leading free school bids, PAN reductions, bulge classes, infant and junior amalgamations, academy conversion.
  • Experience supporting planning applications of schools, including on playing fields and in greenbelt.
  • Experience working in an authority with high delegation to schools and lean central services.
  • Strong analytical skills.
  • Sound knowledge of school organisation legislation and policy and demonstrate analytical skills to undertake statistical data analysis for DfE returns, Cabinet committees and Education Estates Strategy.
  • Knowledge and understanding of the key issues affecting schools and local authorities in relation to the areas of school place planning, school reorganisation and school maintenance.
  • Sound knowledge of legislation and guidance on school organisation, academies and free schools, and school maintenance.
  • Knowledge and/or practical experience of managing school transformation and re-organisation, commissioning, and de-commissioning.
  • Excellent communication and problem-solving skills, a good team player who can support, contribute, and actively participate across the new Education Directorate.
  • Able to lead strategic development along with strong attention to detail and the drive to deliver work of high quality and accuracy.
  • Competence and confidence in working with elected members, head teachers, governors, DfE and members of the public.
  • Excellent IT capability to manage project planning, data handling and communication.
  • Excellent written skills including the ability to write for different audiences e.g. letters, consultation documents, formal reports, information for parents. 
  • Ability to be diplomatic and negotiate effectively, and understand working in a political environment.
  • Ability to work independently and as a member of a team.
  • Ability to deliver projects effectively and to time.
  • Ability to interpret government guidance and other legalistic documentation, and explain this clearly and simply, both orally and in writing.
  • Working in partnership with schools and their Governing Bodies or Trusts.
  • Providing support to a school through a reorganisation e.g.
  • School amalgamation, reduction, or expansion process.
  • Engaging key stakeholders and the local community in the change process through effective informal and formal consultation.
  • Delivering projects within the parameters laid out in statutory guidance and local policy frameworks.
  • Leading the processes for making all statutory returns and plans in a timely and accurate way, including the school capacity return to the DfE / ESFA
  • Facilitates effective team, customer, and stakeholder relationships to achieve organisational objectives. Works and liaises with other senior management teams across departments and wider public sector.
  • Ensures effective business delivery through influencing and motivating others, providing direction, promoting a culture of high performance and an environment of dignity and respect.
  • Uses tact and persuasion to influence others, confidently, clearly, and consistently delivering key messages to teams and external stakeholders.

Job Features

Job Category

Education & Children, Projects & Programme Management

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