Here at Stockton-on-Tees BC, we are proud of our bold and innovative plans across the organisation, so I was of course absolutely thrilled and honoured to pick up the Digital Transformation Award at The MJ Awards 2023.
The award is welcome recognition as we continue a programme of work to combat rising costs and seek to build a better future for the authority and improve outcomes for residents.
The programme is called ‘Powering our Future’, which has five strands – communities, partnerships, transformation, colleagues and regeneration.
The work we have been recognised for with this award win is a great example of the new ways of partnership working we are creating throughout the council. It also demonstrates how we are empowering our staff to be transformative, ambitious, explore new ideas and embrace changes to provide the best services we can for our residents – in this case children, young people and their families.
Ultimately, with more and more demand for our services, making positive changes to make a difference is more important than ever before.
So how did this innovation come about?
Working alongside Invision 360, we developed a new digital approach to create quality Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) for children and young people around the Stockton-on-Tees borough.
An EHCP is a statutory document for children with complex special education, health and care needs – and we recognised that a digital tool could be used to measure and analyse the quality of the plans.
This has led SEND and inclusion colleagues within children’s services to create a system-wide process which improves the consistency of the plans, while also and most importantly, positively impacting on the lived experiences of our young people in the borough.
Inevitably, with EHCPs more consistent across the board, those on the ground delivering the support to our children and young people have the best information possible.
As someone who is incredibly passionate about giving the very best start in life to all our children and young people, this result makes me burst with pride at what a difference we have been able to make and get a new system embedded in so quickly.
I am absolutely thrilled that this work has been recognised as it is not too much of a stretch to say what we have created alongside Invision 360, the Stockton-on-Tees’ Parent Carer Forum, and health and social care colleagues is truly game-changing. By embracing this new technology we can now easily review information across the board, which means we can spot where further improvements are needed.
Of course, we are not complacent and understand the challenges we face – the quality and consistency of EHCPs is an issue faced up and down the country.
However, as part of our improvement journey we are working extremely hard to address these issues and beginning to reap the rewards of our innovations.
The success of this digital tool and pilot project highlights two important things. Firstly, allowing our teams to be pioneering really pays off – and I’m looking forward to seeing more of this across the organisation as the Powering our Future work really ramps up.
And secondly, by fostering a partnership approach, working closely alongside the borough’s Parent Carer Forum, health and social care colleagues and Invision 360, the SEND and inclusion team has been able to utilise their experience and expertise to create something which is fit for purpose for our teams.
This will truly help improve outcomes for children with complex special education, health and care needs.
It is abundantly clear partnership working will become more and more important, given that we are facing significant budget challenges and future funding streams have never been so uncertain. This is a perfect example of just how successful partnership working can be.
Any MJ award is highly coveted and I am incredibly proud of everyone involved who has helped scoop this recognition, especially so given it is judged by influential figures from across the public and private sectors.
I must also pass on my thanks to staff from Invision 360, members of the Stockton-on-Tees Parent Carer Forum and colleagues within the council and health – it truly has been partnership working at its very best. Well done everyone and keep up the good work.
Cllr Lisa Evans is Stockton-on-Tees BC’s deputy leader and cabinet member for children and young people
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