- 157 Group

Collaboration and Shared Services:
HOLEX event, 25 June 2013
Christine Doubleday
Miranda Seymour-Smith
Bob Powell
Cross-sectoral Steering Group
Christine Doubleday, 157 Group
Tim Ward, TSNLA (Chair)
Ian Yarroll, NIACE
Miranda Seymour-Smith, OHA (Projects
Manager, R&D)
• Bob Powell, HOLEX
How we have worked
• Regular (but not overly frequent) meetings – London,
Evesham and via tele-conference
• 157 sourced the budget
• HOLEX National Office managed delegated funding and
provided secretariat
• Focus on local authority services and on third sector
organisations – though looking for cross-sectoral
working too
• Initial mapping and gapping
• Selected Pathfinders (SWL&S, VOLA) - £100k
• Invited bids for a Challenge Fund - £120k (over-bid)
• Reports on these by Christmas 2012 (some slippage)
Challenge Fund Projects
Bristol/WoE Consortium
Bracknell Forest and Wokingham*
North Yorkshire
Learning Plus/V-Learning Net
Lincolnshire-led Benchmarking Club (withdrew part-way)
Plymouth, Devon, Cornwall & CIOS
Greater Reading
Redbridge Institute and Barking & Dagenham*
• Two national meetings
• Encouraged to link
• Interim and Final Reports, to an agreed framework
Learning Points
Meaningful partnership working takes time and involves the development of shared vision, culture,
systems and operations.
Real commitment is needed from the core members of any partnership for its work to be effective. Our
projects show the importance of the driving force of a Co-ordinator, working to ensure adherence to an
agreed action plan. The involvement of senior managers has in cases been key: “attendance by Heads of
Service has been crucial in order that decisions can be made there and then”.
Productive collaborations need clear trust, openness, honesty and transparency for anything to work.
Excellent communication between services is a further key requirement
Shared services in a local authority setting are always going to be dependent on wider local authority
activities. Conflicting work priorities of other teams, especially corporate services, can impact
deleteriously on project timeframes
FE colleges appear to have difficulties in rationalising their priorities when
engaging with collaborative working
Learning Points 2
•Additional contingency time should be considered to account for situations
and issues that arise within the different partner organisations, which have the
effect of limiting the time available to spend on the project
Investment is needed at the outset of developing a shared service approach;
any financial gains are likely to be achieved longer term
Several projects to a greater or lesser extent have found resistance amongst
partners to the expectation that organisations would be willing to share
resources: we suspect this to be a generic characteristic of this type of work
For organisations that operate across a wide geographic area, shared back
room services may not be a viable option. Interestingly, both Pathfinders found little advantage to be gained in
pooling administrative functions. Collective purchasing arrangements, in particular, have been found to expose
the lead organisation to considerable (and possibly unacceptable) risk
Learning Points 3
• Enablers
There was much agreement among providers about what kinds of factors
stimulated and supported success. The emphasis was placed on trust,
openness and transparency as indispensible factors, as were time, careful
planning and clarity of goals
• Blockers
Factors reported as inhibiting success tended to vary across projects more
than did the ‘enablers’, based on individual providers’ circumstances.
There was unanimity, however, that not having enough time was a serious
Continuation Phase
Re-visiting the mapping to secure updates and
• Barriers loom large
• If not compulsory, not prioritised
• SFA needs to be more flexible about kinds of
collaborations, not just sub-contracting
• Need transparency and shared goals
• Needs to be written into an agreement
Continuation phase 2
London-based SDIs as Collaboration Hubs (£40k+)
•City Lit, Mary Ward, Working Men’s College and
Morley College
•Collaboration is a strategic objective and
promoted from the top
•Different collaborations have different aims
•Focused on learners
Continuation phase 3
Role of Governors
Widening participation
Learner benefit
Continuation Phase 4
Third Sector Consortium Development/
partnership working (£15k)
•Research into benefits of forming consortia in a
region which has SFA consortia and one which
does not
•Meeting to canvass further views
•Specific nature of third sector means less easy
to demonstrate benefits but easy to see what
they could be
Importing a wider perspective
College-based collaborations
TSNLA-specific project
Warwick University evaluation
Delphi Study
• CD to expand
• Bulletins
• Short inputs at previous HOLEX Network
• Website
• Materials repository
• Delphi Report
Final observations
•Not about collaboration per se, but about
finding and implementing a whole new way of
•About using partnership as an opportunity to
improve learners’ journey and experience of the