February 16th, 2018




People who think differently have unique skills and talents which can be squandered without managerial awareness and careful thought. People who think differently have different brain functions which include dyslexia, autism, ADHD and dyspraxia.

According to a survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, the professional body for HR and personal development, only 10 per cent of organisations include neurodiversity in their HR People management practices.

The CIPD highlights the unique strengths of neurodivergent people which range from data-driven thinking to sustained focus over long periods, an ability to spot patterns and trends, and the capacity to process information at extraordinary speeds.

As a result of the findings of the survey, the CIPD, in collaboration with Uptimize, the leading provider of neurodiversity inclusion training, has developed a guide for employers to raise awareness and understanding of neurodiversity at work, and the simple workplace adjustments needed to enable people to perform at their best.

Dr Jill Miller, Diversity and Inclusion Adviser at the CIPD, said: “We’re just scratching the surface of understanding how neurodiversity at work can help organisations be more creative and innovative, but the insights we already do have show the unique value that neurodivergent individuals can bring to the workforce.

However, even at a time when employers are under pressure to identify new talent pools to fill skills gaps, recruitment and development practices are screening out such individuals and the unique skills they possess. Rather than measuring potential employees against a long wish list of capabilities, we need to be clear on the key skills each job requires and enable people who possess those to play to their strengths.”

“Ultimately, everyone has the right to feel accepted and included at work and organisations have a responsibility to be a place where everyone can reach their potential. While workplace adjustments will be dependent on individual need, they are often small and inexpensive, and many actually benefit everyone. Why wouldn’t you want a more navigable intranet or clearer communications with your manager?”

Ed Thompson, CEO of Uptimize, said: “In the past, attention was solely on the challenges faced by neurodivergent individuals at work, but now leading employers are documenting the huge advantages of employing people who literally think differently. We believe that embracing neurodiversity can be a significant competitive advantage – organisations have the opportunity to leverage the skills of this high potential, available talent pool. Our guide can develop employer awareness and understanding of neurodiversity and provides practical suggestions to make your organisation neurodiversity smart.”



New analysis by the leading think-tank for the North of England, IPPR North, has found that London will receive £4,155 per person, compared to £1,600 in the North. A gap of £2,555 per person.

This means that planned transport investment in London is almost 2.6 times higher per person than in the North. Yorkshire and the Humber and the North East are the English regions set to receive the least planned transport spending.

The new independent analysis comes after government published its own regional breakdown before Christmas and wrote to MPs claiming it had reversed the historical trend.

IPPR North has commended the government for sharing new data and producing its own “official analysis” of the national infrastructure pipeline but it claims many will find government figures misleading as less than half of planned spending is included.

Crucially, the government analysis excludes all spending which takes place after 2020/21 despite the infrastructure pipeline being a long-term planning tool.

Nearly £12 billion Transport for London spending is also excluded following a deal between the Transport secretary, Chris Grayling, and London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, allowing London to keep its own business rates to spend on transport. The deal means that London will no longer contribute to transport spending in the rest of the country and stands to benefit by £240 million next year and more in the years after.

Senior Research Fellow at IPPR North, Luke Raikes, said:
“Despite the Transport Secretary’s recent statements, London is still set to receive almost three times more transport investment per person than the North. This is indefensible.
“The North has been underfunded in comparison to London for decades, and our figures demonstrate that ministers have failed to redress this imbalance. This failure will continue to hold back the North and the country until the government acts.

“The government has improved their analysis of these figures but they have then excluded almost half of the spending for which they are responsible. A disproportionate amount of that excluded money is for London.

“Instead of disputing the figures the government needs to invest in the big, transformative projects being developed in the North such as Northern Powerhouse Rail.

“The government is making Transport for the North a statutory body but it must give it similar powers to Transport for London so that it can encourage business investment and borrow for its own infrastructure instead of going cap in hand to central government.”



Emma Toublic, head of education information and business systems at Essex County Council, talks about the local authority’s quest to create a single record of a child from birth to adulthood, and the positive impact this is having on the lives of children and families.

The benefits of joining up disparate sources of data to create a secure and central pool of knowledge on children and families cannot be underestimated. This has been our aim here at Essex County Council for the past two years.

We launched an initiative to bring different pieces of data together so that authorised staff within our education support teams have the information they need to see a fuller picture of a child’s life and circumstances.

It was not until we embarked on this journey that we realised what a difference it would make, both to our staff and to the families we work with.

Building a clear picture

Our ultimate vision is to create a single record of a child, from birth to adulthood that can be accessed by those staff who have the appropriate permissions and we are well on our way to achieving this.

The starting point to taking a more joined-up approach to data was to review the way our teams shared information about the children and young people they support. This was key to ensuring that the right information could be put in the right hands, at the right time.

If you are a caseworker for a young person with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) who suddenly stops attending school, for example, your objective is to get the child back into the classroom as quickly as possible. But to devise an effective action plan, there are some key pieces of information you need.

You could make a more informed decision about how to support the child if you know that they were excluded from their primary school two years ago, for example, or that an older sibling in the household has a history of truancy.

The aim was to ensure practitioners can access the details they need to make good decisions for the children and families they are in contact with.

Creating a knowledge hub

The review of data sources revealed that Essex County Council had no fewer than 700 disparate databases, spreadsheets and filing cabinets of information used by children’s services teams.

This meant that it could take time for practitioners to gather the information they needed to establish the reasons why a child with SEND might start missing school, for example. Could it be due to problems with their daily transport? Or had the child been struggling to cope with incidences of bullying?

We wanted our staff to have these key details to hand so that they can
prevent delays in getting a young person such as this who has disengaged from school back into the classroom. So, using Capita’s One management information system, we changed the way we recorded and stored data and created a central hub for information on children and families.

Timely interventions

The system is the foundation stone for a single record of every child that will follow them through to adulthood. This view of a child draws together data right from early years, through primary and secondary school and into youth services.

Staff with the relevant authorisations can access this record, and add to it, whenever it’s necessary, smoothing the way for more effective multi-agency working.

So now, a caseworker can look at child’s record and see if there is a change in their circumstances or a parent who is receiving additional help from the council, helping them to make the right decisions at the right time to make a difference.

Information exchange

With a more effective way to share data in place, we can work more efficiently too. Previously, we would need to arrange meetings for up to 10 different people to discuss the support requirements for a vulnerable child and each professional would bring with them their paper records and notes.

But these days, authorised practitioners can access the system in a few clicks and see the details they need. With key data being shared securely across relevant teams, staff are much better equipped for informed decision-making.

Another key benefit of storing information centrally is that it is easier to support staff when they are out visiting families. Everything a practitioner needs to know about the family is on the system, so they will know and can prepare in advance if there is a dog at the address or there has been an incidence of violence reported, for example.

Future provision

One positive impact of launching this initiative is that it has enabled us to make appropriate arrangements for children not just now, but in the future too, as we have the tools we need to support accurate financial forecasting.

When we are notified of a toddler in the area with a disability, for instance, the relevant team has the information they need to support the family appropriately. It will also enable us to look ahead to the type of provision the family may need in the years to come, from transport to school, to help entering the workplace once they reach adulthood.

And if parents need to inform us of any changes in circumstances, it’s much easier for them to do so. They can go online and register a change of address, a new school or care need, and having told us once, everyone who needs to know will be informed.

Cloud technology

We want our staff to be able to focus their time on activities that support children and families. With this in mind, we opted to hold our data securely in the cloud, so staff don’t need to spend time dealing with day-to-day software issues, or systems maintenance.

With our software upgrades scheduled to take place overnight, or at a time that is convenient for us, the system is ready to use when our staff come into the office in the morning. One of our key tasks, processing offers for school places, took just 15 minutes this year.

Next steps

The next step is to bring in key information from our children’s centres, such as hearing test appointments and parenting classes. With registrar services incorporated, we will be well on our way to delivering our vision of a single record of a child.

This hub of knowledge will sit at the heart of the joined-up service delivered in Essex County Council, enabling us to provide early help where it is needed to improve the future prospects of children and young people across the region.



Students find difficulty in presenting their limited experience to a potential employer. Edd Williams offers advice on how to approach the challenge.

For 14 years, Edd Williams has helped people get jobs. He’s worked with global corporations and tiny SMEs, he has spoken to CEOs and graduate trainees. He has found engineers in South Korea and nuclear scientists who speak French to work in Norway on contracts. He’s spoken to literally thousands of people to understand what they are looking for in a job or what they are looking for in an employee. He’s coached them through interviews, to actively listen, to mirror body language, to ask the right questions, to be confident but not arrogant, the right way to shake hands, how to close the deal.

Edd has studied, edited and written over 100,000 CVs: 25-30 CVs a day, 260 days a year for over 14 years stacks up. His new book, Is Your School Lying To You? (Ortus Press, January 31 2018) is written for the next generation of employees. Edd believes that careers advice in schools, colleges and universities is past its sell-by date. Working for many years in recruitment, he knows what the job market demands, what employers look for and he now knows, through the statistics, anecdotal evidence and first-hand experience, that schools up and down the country just don’t get it. The work he does with students and employers has further convinced him that too many schools are lying to their students about what they should be doing to get the kind of careers and consequently the kind of lives they want. He’s trying to change all of this through his book – Is Your School Lying To You? – and his work at Duart Consultants.

Are you Experienced?

‘Experience is one thing you can’t get for nothing.’ Oscar Wilde

Experience in this instance is less to do with age and how many times you’ve been around the block but rather the value of the activities you’ve taken part in, the situations you’ve put yourself in and what you’ve learnt from them. Doing something without learning from it can’t reasonably be considered an experience – it’s just something you did – but an admissions tutor, an employer, someone who can offer you help and guidance, wants to understand the how and why of your journey, what you’ve learnt along the way, how that knowledge and experience has benefitted you and how it informs what/how you do things and what you hope to learn as you continue.

Most students I’ve worked with or spoken to have had some form of work experience placement organised by their school. A laudable and noble aim but the vast majority of students tend to have a rubbish time of it, most of them seemed to either work in an uncle’s office doing photocopying, or in a primary school that their school had links to. Those are just two examples and may not reflect what happened/happens in your school, but overwhelmingly with the people I’ve dealt with, the placements didn’t speak to what they wanted to do or reflect where they wanted to go.

How do we change that?

Simply put, you need to get off your butt. The school can only ever do so much – remember this is your life, not theirs; if they’ve got to organise work for 150 kids some of you are going to slip through the net. If they were a lifeguard and you were drowning along with another 149 kids you’d probably give swimming a shot rather than bobbing up and down in the water. Take charge of your own life and sort out work experience that is relevant and interesting for you. Plus, businesses and people will respond much more favourably to someone with a genuine interest and passion for a subject who has the chops to come and ask for help rather than having a disinterested teenager being foisted upon them.

How do I organise it?

Same message as before, get off your butt and do it! The shiny-things-obsessed brain worm will find a way to encourage you to put it off, procrastinate, and otherwise derail your best intentions, but you need to just get on and do it. But how to begin?
• Identify the areas in which you are interested. This could be a variety of things – remember half the point of this exercise is to prove or disprove your interest in a certain area. If you’re not sure, give it a whirl, stick it on the list. A couple of hours out of your life is hardly going to derail the whole process and you might surprise yourself positively or negatively – either way it’s all good because you’ve learned a little something.
• Get on the internet, look at local companies that are working in this area, look at their websites; the more you know about them the more you can re ne who you approach and explain to them what specifically about them interests you.
• Ask your parents and parents’ friends and friends’ parents who they know. Is there anyone in your extended network that may be able to help you? Don’t be afraid to ask – they can only say no.
• Make a list of the companies most suited to what you want to explore.
• Develop a short sales pitch/rehearse what you want to say when you introduce yourself.
• Get on the phone, go to their offices, send them an email and make sure that your email address is work-appropriate, no ‘BigBoi69’s or ‘Sexylegs’ please. No one thinks it’s funny.
• That’s it! When you break it down like that it’s really not so very hard is it? Have a think, make some calls. Simple. Yet most people don’t do this anywhere near enough, if at all.


There are two important things to remember here – don’t try and be clever, and get to the point. People, generally speaking, are good eggs and will happily give you some of their time, but they owe you nothing, so do your research, be prepared and don’t waste their valuable time. You are entering their world, not they yours, so act accordingly – be professional, sincere, courteous and grateful.

Broadly speaking there will be three forms of approach – phone or email or turning up. Turning up is a pretty ballsy move as it pretty much demands an instant reaction; they may be impressed or if they’re busy or having a bad day it could push them over the edge. But with a CV and a winning smile the receptionist may take pity on you and give your details to the person you need. Otherwise it probably begins with calling their reception and asking who it is you need to speak to. Don’t overcomplicate it but do prepare in advance so you know what you are asking.
A simple example would be something like this:
‘Hi there. I was hoping you may be able to help. My name is X., I’m a student at X. I’m thinking about pursuing a career in X and was wondering whether there was anyone in the business
I could speak to about coming in to do some work experience just to get a sense of what it’s actually like?’

In all likelihood whoever answers the phone may say one of three things –
1. That’s not really something we do.
2. Yes, that will be Bob you need to speak to. Let me see if he’s available. (Other names may be available.)
3. Yes, the person you need to speak to is Colin (see?) I can give you his email address.
You should deal with any of these with grace and courtesy – rejection is a big part of life and work, so you mustn’t take it too personally. If you’ve spent ages steeling yourself to make that first call and you get shot down it can really wind you. Don’t be put off; it’s not you. How could it be? You said three sentences; sometimes companies just don’t do it. The next one may. If they put you straight through just remain calm; if you’ve done your preparation you should be just ne.

The important thing to remember is that you may have to answer questions, they will likely ask things like:
• What is it you want to do?
• What about this career interests you?
• What do you want to learn?
• What do you think we can teach you/show you?
• What are you hoping to get out of this?
• When are you available to come in?

It’s important that you have thought about these things in advance and have rehearsed at least a few responses. As I said earlier, they are giving up their time: don’t waste it by saying ‘erm’ and ‘I dunno, stuff and that’. Think about your objectives and be honest with them, don’t try and dress it up; people respond to honesty – they don’t expect you to be a polished professional with answers to everything but they will expect you to try to behave accordingly and at least have an idea about what your objectives are. How can they help you if you don’t even know what you want?

The final option is that you will be given an email address and a contact name and, much like with your initial pitch to the reception, you drop them an email explaining who you are and why you are emailing them. In this scenario don’t pester them, give them at least a week to come back before following up, at which point call reception again and explain the situation, asking if you could speak to them. If they don’t respond, don’t push the matter; sometimes life gets in the way. Ideally you will have a number of other approaches live at the same time so your eggs should be in lots of baskets.

As for what you need to do when you’re actually there, having secured your work experience placement, you’ll need to read Edd’s book – Is Your School Lying To You? out at the end of January 2018 on Amazon and in all good bookshops!

For more information click here.



The career path of a performer can be quite rocky. With little stability and a huge amount of competition for each job, trying to find financial stability can be very challenging.

For those performers who want to move on in their career, but stay in an industry in which they love, finding a long-term option in which they can make life plans is often high on the agenda.

A theatre school franchise, with almost 50 schools throughout the UK, has many retired performers as Principals. Through franchising, they have found a rewarding long-term career path and continue to grow their own schools and offer many opportunities for their students.

Charlotte Young is the Principal of Razzamataz West Cumbria. As a former professional dancer and singer, Charlotte joined Razzamataz as a teacher in 2005 and was later promoted to be a manager. Having seen the success of the schools, she decided to open her own Razzamataz in 2007, when she became a franchisee.

“The development of Razzamataz and the way it moves with the times has really kept me motivated,” explains Charlotte. “The Head Office team is always finding new opportunities for us to pass to our students and the amazing training and development that is on offer allows me to make my goals a reality.”

Helen Bell has been the franchise owner of Razzamataz Sheffield for more than five years although she started out as a singing teacher for the company back in September 2008. For Helen, who now combines being a theatre school Principal with caring for her newborn son, the opportunities that she has seen throughout her years are inspiring.

“I keep myself and my students motivated by creating lots of new opportunities for them to enjoy,” says Helen. “This is further supported by the work that Head Office do and in recent years, the students of Razzamataz Sheffield have been lucky enough to be involved with performing at Her Majesty’s Theatre in the West End, Disneyland® Paris and participating in guest workshops with Ashely Banjo from Diversity. Next year, we are delighted to be part of the cast performing at the Indigo 02, which is a first for Razzamataz and very exciting for our whole team.”

Lauren Kirkbride began her time with Razzamataz as a student aged 11. She then went on to work as a teacher in 2011 and also two seasons with the First Choice Razzamataz team overseas. In September 2015, Lauren got the opportunity to take over the Penrith school.

“Being able to provide a range of opportunities to our students keeps me passionate about my school,” says Lauren. “From a student singing a solo for the first time to performing in the Disneyland® Paris pre-parade, it’s amazing to be able to create memories for them and build their confidence and self-belief.”

To find out more about becoming part of the Razzamataz network of Principals, contact Head of Franchisee Recruitment Suzie McCafferty on E:suzie@razzamataz.co.uk or call 07793 054 233. For more details visit: www.razzamataz.co.uk.



An all party committee of MPs has called on the Government to devise a joined up, cross-government strategy to prevent homelessness.

Evidence to the committee revealed that across Great Britain, tens of thousands of households approach local authorities for support with homelessness. The number of cases of all forms of homelessness has risen in England, while remaining
steady in Scotland,

Between 2014 and 2016 rough sleeping rose dramatically by over 50% in England. The current safety net is clearly not working as efficiently as it could to prevent and resolve homelessness. The Government recognises this growing emergency.

Homelessness should be rare, brief and non-recurrent. In its first Parliamentary year the committee has developed strong cross-party support and provided a platform for homeless people to engage with Parliamentarians and inform the political dialogue surrounding homelessness.

The goal of the committee is to develop robust policy solutions to prevent and end
homelessness. Preventing homelessness is the focus of the committee, specifically looking at cohorts which are most at risk: care leavers, prison leavers, and survivors of domestic violence

Research revealed that one third of care leavers become homeless in the first two years immediately after they leave care and 25% of all homeless people have been
in care at some point in their lives.

Similarly, housing and homelessness are key issues for survivors of domestic violence. In 2016, 90% of women in refuges were reported to have housing needs and
in 2015/16, 6,550 people became homeless because of a violent relationship breakdown, 11% of all homeless acceptances. In 2015, 35% of
female rough sleepers left their homes due to domestic violence.

Twenty per cent of prisoners surveyed in 2014 said they had no accommodation to go to on release and there are many barriers which can make finding accommodation on release difficult. The committee argues that Departments should work in partnership to audit existing policies and design programmes to specifically support care leavers, prison leavers and survivors of domestic violence.

The committee’s report highlights that many people who are homeless can be readily identified before becoming homeless and local authorities and other local services could have taken action earlier. But the reality is that they slipped through the net.

Evidence presented to the committee shows that changes to the welfare system and
in particular, the introduction of Universal Credit, will have a particular detrimental effect on homelessness.

The committee called on the Government to take action and make the much needed
change to prevent people from becoming homeless. It urges the Government to take steps to prevent and end homelessness for care leavers, prison leavers and
survivors of domestic violence. They recommend that the Government establishes a joined up, cross-government strategy to prevent homelessness.

Departments should work in partnership to audit existing policies and design
programmes to specifically support care leavers, prison leavers and survivors of domestic violence. The committee believes that as Government has committed to putting prevention at the heart of its future working, and with the Homelessness
Reduction Act, and a manifesto commitment to launch a Homelessness Reduction Taskforce; there is an opportunity to bring together national policies and local frontline work to prevent and end homelessness for these cohorts for good.

The report is available here.



The government launched its first ever anti-littering strategy for England in April. Patience Atkinson-Gregory of litter bin manufacturers Amberol (www.amberol.co.uk) explains how the new strategy could affect councils around the country and offers advice on reducing levels of litter.

It is estimated that 62% of people in England drop litter. Although these figures are alarmingly high, statistics show that 90% of sites in England are deemed by the government to have an acceptable level of litter. So why the disparity between the amount of litter dropped and the apparent cleanliness of our streets? I’d suggest that it is largely down to the significant amount of money that is spent dealing with the problem. The key question is: how sustainable is this as a long-term solution?

According to Keep Britain Tidy, the annual cost of clearing up England’s litter is a staggering £800 million. What’s more, littering levels have shown minimal improvement over the past decade despite efforts from councils and local authorities to educate people and promote responsible litter disposal.

Creating a strategy for England

In an effort to tackle the issue and create an anti-litter culture, the government has developed England’s first ever National Litter Strategy. The strategy is based on three themes: education, enforcement and infrastructure. The common aim of all three is to change the behaviour of those who deem it acceptable to drop litter.

Under the new measures, the most serious litterers could be hit with £150 fines. The strategy is also targeting waste disposed of when on the road with vehicle owners receiving penalty notices when it is proven that litter was thrown from their car, even if it was discarded by a passenger.

Aside from the new financial penalties for offenders, the strategy involves creating a better cleaning and litter infrastructure and educating the public to change behaviours. In order to help achieve this, the measures drawn up by the environment, transport and communities departments include:

• Recommending that offenders on community sentences (including people caught fly-tipping), help councils clear up litter and fly-tipped waste.
• Working with Highways England to target the 25 worst litter hotspots across our road network.
• Creating a “green generation” by educating children to lead the fight against litter through an increased number of Eco-Schools and boosting participation in national clean-up days.

How the strategy might impact councils

There are two main areas of the strategy that will affect local councils: enforcement and infrastructure.

Although rarely executed, local authorities can already hand out fines for those they see dropping litter. The strategy proposes raising littering penalties from £50 £80, to a maximum penalty of £150. There will be new regulations to help councils tackle littering from vehicles and the government is also aiming to raise awareness amongst councils and magistrates around the range of sanctions available to tackle littering and fly-tipping.

Tackling litter on the streets

In terms of improving infrastructure, research into littering behaviours shows that around one in four litterers blame their behaviour on a lack of bins. There is also evidence that littering rates increase the further people are from a bin. In an effort to tackle this, from 2019 the government will begin to provide councils with guidance on “binfrastructure”; the design, number and location of public litter bins and other items of street furniture designed to capture litter.

Unfortunately there’s no easy answer to reducing litter, but having a national strategy will at least help create a sense of consistency and reinforce messages around littering. The most effective solution is really a mixture of the measures mentioned in the new littering strategy: a campaign of education, enforcement and investment in the right tools for the job.

Less litter on the streets helps the environment, local economy, tourism, health as well as enabling residents to develop a sense of pride in the area that they live in. Everybody wins. Based on almost 50 years of experience working with councils developing bins to improve waste collection, these are some ways that councils can tackle the litter issue in their area:

Partnering with business owners – Councils can liaise with business owners, especially those with outdoor seating i.e. restaurant, cafés and bars, to support them in reducing their contribution to the local litter problem. Smaller bins and ashtrays should be placed at entrances and exits to prevent any litter coming from them. Councils should start liaising with those most culpable first.

Community awards – Schemes that reward communities for improving the cleanliness of their area can create healthy competition, leading to wide scale improvements. Personalised incentive schemes give councils the chance to prioritise a specific area that may be a problem for them.

Give the public a push in the right direction – Sometimes all the public needs is a nudge. Examples of this could be footsteps painted on the floor leading towards a bin or making it fun by painting a hopscotch board leading to a bin. We have found that our animal bins encourage young people to dispose of waste responsibly. Our talking bins are particularly popular and have really helped to reduce littering in public places across the UK and beyond.

Investing in the right equipment – Something as simple as investing in the right products can help a council to meet and exceed their ‘on the street’ littering targets. Choosing the right litter bin is critical, but there’s really no one size fits all approach. Different sizes and styles of bin will be suitable for different locations and purposes. However, there are some factors worth considering when purchasing new litter bins for your park, high street or public spaces.

• The aperture size of the bin needs to be large enough for litter to be deposited but small enough to prevent rubbish escaping due to weather conditions or vandalism.
• Where is litter most prominent in your area? It is best to target these litter hotspots, especially if resources are limited.
• How much space is available for a bin? They come in many different shapes and sizes so do your research to find the right bin for the right location.
• Can the public spot the bin easily? Bins don’t have to be black or grey – there are more vibrant colours to really make them stand out.
• Make sure signage is clear and informative. What can be deposited in the bin? Is it for recyclables and if so, what?
• Consistency – develop branding and an identity for your bins through the use of consistent colour, style and signage. This will make them easier to spot and more likely to be used.
• And finally, while the above will all help, without an adequate number of bins in the right locations, it will be difficult to see a noticeable change in behaviour.

The Littering Strategy is a step in the right direction but local councils don’t need to wait for the government to change regulations and implement schemes. Councils can make changes to help their local area now – that’s one of the reasons why some areas of the country have less littering than others; they take action and make improvements. Hopefully the Litter Strategy will then provide a useful structure to support any new initiatives – which can only be good for everyone.

About the author

Patience Atkinson-Gregory is MD of Amberol (www.amberol.co.uk). Amberol supply local government, education and commercial sectors with a range of litter bins as well as self-watering planters for communal spaces.



With a focus on broadening opportunities for learners across the region, East Riding of Yorkshire Council delivers teaching, learning and assessment from four sites covering a wide geographical area. Jayne Wilcock, curriculum and data manager, explains how the council uses data to meet learners’ needs.

To make a real difference to people’s lives, organisations delivering education and skills in local communities increasingly need to focus their resources on ensuring people get the opportunity to study the right courses, in the right places to maximise learning outcomes.

We provide residents from 16+ with access to high-quality teaching, learning and assessment opportunities. This includes individual support to help build confidence, promote wellbeing and enhance skills development to ultimately boost the career prospects of learners across the region. We can welcome up to 1,000 learners at any one time.
With a large catchment area and a wide range of courses on offer, learners often travel long distances to take advantage of the opportunities available to them. So, we use technology to help us ensure courses are having the desired impact.

Forging successful learning pathways

The first step to learner success is making sure individuals are on the most appropriate courses and a key part of this is allowing them the option to apply online for their course.

As an adult and community learning provider, our aim is to be responsive to local need and as a result, our course offerings can be updated frequently. An online portal allows us the flexibility to do this quickly and efficiently.
Paper based course information is expensive to produce and distribute and impossible to update and change without incurring further costs. By moving the enrolment *process online, we can get new information to prospective learners in a cost effective, efficient way.

Individuals can browse course options, make enquiries, book and pay online. We’ve also found we can often engage with them before they have even enrolled on their course, something which didn’t happen before.

The technology links the learner through to the East Riding of Yorkshire Council website – we use the UNIT-e management information system (MIS) from Capita. Here they can find more information about financial support options and learning assistance available in the classroom. They could also see information such as what qualifications and skills an individual might need to get the most from a Level 2 counselling course or guidance which computing course level would be most appropriate for them, to help them make their choice.

The ability to communicate quickly and easily with learners online improves the support they receive. But technology can increase the chances of them completing their courses too.
Engaged learners stay on course

With learners across four sites, it was previously difficult to spot if there was a high rate of absence on a specific course, which can be an early indicator that an individual or group might be struggling with their learning. If left unchecked, this can lead to withdrawals that might potentially be avoided, with the right support in place.

Moving from paper-based registration process to recording attendance electronically in UNIT-e has made it easier to identify falling attendance rates earlier so that we can intervene sooner and provide the support needed to keep learners on track to completing their course. This has helped us reduce the percentage of learners who drop out – during the 2016-17 academic year, retention was boosted by 4% points on the previous academic year and we achieved a 6%-point rise over a three-year period. Our overall achievement rates also rose by 4% points in the same three-year period.

A fresh mindset

Business intelligence has given us a fresh mind-set to fine-tune our provision and the way we support learners and staff. We have simplified the day to day learner management processes too, which has reduced administration and provided our teaching staff with more hours in the day to do what they do best, teach.

Being able to make more informed decisions on what courses should be delivered where, coupled with our ability to provide support sooner, means an all-round improved experience for our learners and an expanded scope of opportunities for employment and career development across the community served by East Riding of Yorkshire Council.

Jayne Wilcock is curriculum and data manager at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, who use the UNIT-e management information system from Capita’s further and higher education business.



Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police Have expanded their drone fleet with the purchase of a range of specialist UAVs.

The drones, which will be supplied by COPTRZ, are equipped with optical zoom and thermal imaging capabilities. Their primary use will be in missing person searches, crime scene investigations and fast response to major road traffic collisions. They will also help search the forces’ 600 miles of coastline.

Earlier this year, Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police were the first force to announce their intentions to employ full-time UAV pilots and create a dedicated drone unit. Investment in the new drones follows 18 months of successful trials across the region. During trials, it was reported that the use of UAVs significantly reduced response time and increased cost effectiveness of the forces’ aerial assets.

Steve Coulson, Founder & Managing Director of COPTRZ, commented, “We are delighted to be working alongside the UK’s first dedicated police drone unit. The demands of the contract were strict, however due to our unique supplier partnerships we have been able to provide a bespoke solution that will prove to be an excellent asset to Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police.”

It is expected that the new drones will be fully operation in early 2018.



Graham Kavanagh, chief product officer at Capita One, discusses the challenges around tackling youth unemployment and looks at some of the ways local authorities are keeping the numbers moving in the right direction.

There’s no single answer to the question of how local authorities keep young people in education, employment or training after the school years. A complex mix of factors can contribute to the issue – such as deprivation, low aspiration or a history of poor attendance in school.

Nonetheless, the latest government figures remain encouraging. They reveal that just 11.1% of 16 to 24-year-olds are now not in education, employment or training (Neet), compared with 16.2% five years ago.

So, what initiatives have worked well for local authorities? And how can they continue to drive youth unemployment down?

Working with schools

Many councils have introduced initiatives to tackle youth unemployment well before a child leaves school, following the maxim that prevention is better than cure.

To do this effectively, the first task is to understand what issues put young people at greater risk of being out of education, employment or training. These factors will vary from area to area. One way local authorities gain insight into how they can work with schools to improve outcomes for young people is to scrutinise historical data from previous cohorts of these young people.

For some local authorities, being excluded from school has been found to be a key factor that can prevent a child from reaching their full potential. For others, it might be having English as a second language. More broadly, councils may also find that whether or not a child is looked-after has an impact on their future employment prospects.

Knowing the issues affecting outcomes for young people can put council staff in a stronger position to take action that will help to keep children on track with their learning throughout the school years. This might be an overhaul of the council’s alternative education provision for children excluded from school, or a school-wide initiative to boost the achievement of looked-after children or those whose first language is not English.

Whatever the key issues, being able to pinpoint them and work closely with schools to address them has been an important first step in many local authorities that have been successful in improving the life chances of young people in their area.

Delivering on the September Guarantee

As the end of Year 11 draws near, councils focus on meeting the requirements of initiatives such as the September Guarantee, a government-led pledge for all school-leavers to be offered an education or training opportunity by the end of September.

To support this, councils need to capture a range of information about all young people in their area leaving school. This includes their intended destination – further education, a part-time training placement or an opportunity that combines volunteering with an apprenticeship, for example. It is also vital for staff to know if the offer has been accepted, the young person is undecided or they have refused the opportunity. That way, alternative pathways can be identified, wherever possible.

Some local authorities take this a step further by putting strategies in place to ensure that young people take up the opportunities they have been offered. With their permission, staff might follow school leavers up by phone, or via social media, to keep their records up to date.

With data sharing agreements in place with a range of organisations – schools, colleges, training providers and employers – local authorities can help ensure that staff with the appropriate authorisation have the latest details of a young person’s situation to hand.

But, what can staff do when someone does not turn up at the college they were expected to join or the training placement offered to them? Many local authorities take a proactive approach to finding out why.

Engaging with the hard-to-reach

There could be any number of reasons why a young person might not take up an offer under the September Guarantee. The issue could be circumstantial – they have had to start caring for a family member who has fallen ill unexpectedly, for example. They may have had a change of heart or been unable to meet the necessary transport costs. This is where the local authority can make a real difference.

By understanding the issues, the council can put the right support in place, at the right time to prevent the most vulnerable children and young people from becoming jobless in the future.

This targeted support might be all that is needed to help local authorities keep the Neet figures falling and put young people on the road to a happy and fulfilling career.