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London and South East Education Group has embedded social value generation into organisational practices. The first College to think this way, it shows how local anchor organisations can enhance the economic and social wellbeing of their areas, catalysing long-term sustainable changes that local people want.

Its work is creating new collaborations and partnerships – for example, by working with local NHS providers it is directly solving skills gaps – and has already been recognised in the TES and Social Value Awards. 25-minute video case study (with more details below):

Within the £70m-turnover group are two legal entities, London South East Colleges (a college of further and higher education) and London South East Academies Trust. The Group has 1300 staff and over 12,000 learners.

In the 25-minute video case study above, Group Chief Transformation Officer Louise Wolsey describes the context, political and policy changes and background behind the Group’s social value strategy:

“For us to maximise opportunities for our learners, our communities and all the partners we work with, we needed to find a new way of measuring impact beyond simply educational outputs.”

And Group Director of Strategic Growth and Partnerships Andrew Cox gives an insight into how L&SEEG measures, manages and maximises social value. He covers how the Social Value Portal’s TOMS Framework, the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) and this Procurement to Partnerships Toolkit’s Five Fundamental Correctives have supported the development of its own measures and framework. “Without using the five correctives, we won’t develop partnerships that sustain our communities.”

Further details about L&SEEG’s approach

London & South East Education Group, a social enterprise, is embedding social value into its operations through initiatives including community-focused work experience opportunities, local procurement strategies and social-value related performance targets for staff.

The Group’s top place in the 2020 Social Value Public Sector Leadership Award recognised the work it is doing to support its communities and embed social value in its business culture, processes and systems.

It has also enabled staff and students to develop and support a national foodbank campaign during the Covid-19 pandemic and set up a partnership with the NHS to support the vaccine rollout.

London & South East Education Group is a social enterprise which “goes beyond simply delivering education.” CEO Dr. Sam Parrett says:

“As a social enterprise we are more responsive to employers’ skills needs than ever before. By working in partnership with local authorities and the Greater London Authority, we have secured millions of pounds of funding for capital projects. We are also much closer to the communities we serve now that we are working with all age groups, from primary school children through to adult community learners.

“And we must not forget the added benefit of increased social value. Colleges that sit at the heart of their communities open up choice and opportunity for people of all ages, abilities and interests. This goes way beyond people simply gaining qualifications – it’s about transforming entire regions by offering quality educational pathways, which lead to increased aspiration and social mobility.”

To measure and manage its impact the Group has been working with the Social Value Portal and the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) and quantified its social capital generated as £41m in 2020-21.

The group measures and reports on three core metrics, according to Andrew Cox – the number of local residents employed, its spend within its local communities, and the number of social action projects it is running.

“We’re more than our Colleges,” says Cox, “and we know that if we were not part of our communities then much community wealth, civic support, local spending and employment would be lost. But if we did not measure and mange this value – which we don’t think any other UK Colleges are doing – then we could not be as successful in generating it.”

On receiving the 2020 Social Value Public Sector Leadership Award, Dr. Parrett commented:

 “To win an award outside of the education sector is a huge achievement for us. We are working hard to demonstrate the added value we add to our communities, beyond simply delivering qualifications. We are committed to long-term change with the support of our partners and stakeholders – including our local authorities with whom we are working closely.

“Further education is set to take centre stage in the rebuilding of the nation’s economy post-Covid 19 and we want to ensure that the social value our sector generates is recognised. This is not about getting our staff and students to do more – but about encouraging them to think and act differently, putting social impact at the forefront of decision making every day.”

Some London & South East Education Group projects which generate social value:

As a hub provider for the Mayor of London’s Construction Academy (MCA)

  • The College provides high-quality construction training in the Capital, to address the huge skills gap the industry is facing.
  • It meets a wide range of KPIs around progression and achievement.
  • It has been flexible and responsive during Covid, developing a new “virtual academy” and – when lockdown prevented job placements – seconding some of its MCA team back to the GLA to provide targeted business support and keep the economy moving.

Providing outstanding education and training for young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) across the boroughs of Bromley, Bexley and Greenwich

  • “There’s a mutually beneficial relationship between the College and SEND commissioners,” according to Andrew Cox. “They have a community need; we have an outstanding and trusted delivery mechanism allowing tutors and our SEND team to deliver what the communities need.” (The College is rated “outstanding” by Ofcom for its SEND provision).
  • LSEC also routinely supports other Colleges through systemised leadership and tailored support to enable colleges to improve the quality of their SEND service.
  • The success of the SEND programme is not only down to the College’s relationships with employer, but broader relationships with the wider community, adds Cox: “with the Department for Education, the London boroughs, our voluntary, community, charity and social enterprise partners such as Bromley Mencap.”

Partnership Lessons for Commissioners and Social Enterprises

Proactive, honest and and two-way communication is at the heart of effective partnership working, according to Cox:

“Poor commissioners demand a surprise report with little notice. But good partners will be continually preparing progressive updates, showing how you are delivering on your commissioner’s vision. Flexibility is also critically important, as Covid has shown.”

Horizon scanning and pre-emptive projects

Effective and efficient horizon-scanning is vital for social enterprises too, adds Cox. LSECG is generally highly effective at securing capital funding from varied sources. Cox says:

“Knowing a fund is coming and a fund’s strategic objectives in advance is important. Capital funds are always looking for shovel-ready projects. We have often commissioned designs and feasibility studies for potential projects which line up with priorities well before funds are open for bids.

“Social enterprises need an efficient and trustworthy bid development team, which can be internal or external, because when these funds come out there’s not a great deal of time. So many miss opportunities, but if you know a fund is coming, don’s just wait for it to open before reacting to the specifications – take an early and detailed examination of the strategy of the funding body and develop projects you could progress when the fund is open.”

What next?

Case studies of purpose-aligned partnerships

Examples of successful public service community partnerships delivering a variety of public services. See them here.

Tools, Resources and Model Documents

Example documentation, contracts, processes and agreements you can access – or use as a checklist as you progress your partnerships. These practical models and outlines include a set of social value imperatives.

5 Fundamental Correctives for Public Service Reform

Read about the Five Correctives here or click the buttons below for descriptions of the outcomes of, process behind, underlying principles, and evidence for each corrective.

Answers to Frequently-Asked Questions

Plus put your specific queries to our community, made of up public-partnership-success-stories, legal and finance experts, bold commissioners and social enterprise leaders. FAQs AND POST A QUESTION.

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