Goal 1: finish the high level map of how allocation and payment information is communicated to academies

In our first 2 sprints, we conducted information gathering on the different funding streams that go through the funding service in some way and are received by academies.

We gathered information including:

  • basic information about the funding stream such as if it is allocated on a financial or academic year and what age group it applies to
  • what platform and format is used to communicate allocation information
  • what platform and format we use to communicate payment information
  • the timing of communications

We've now put that all together into a map to show the different ways that we currently communicate allocation and payment information to academies.

Our narrowed down list of funding streams

There are currently 11 funding streams that go through the funding service and can be received by academies.

This is too many for us to then research and map in detail – for both the external user experience and the internal process. So we've narrowed down our list.

The 6 funding streams we will research and map in detail are:

  • General annual grant (GAG)
  • Pupil premium
  • Early career framework (early career teacher and mentor time off timetable grant)
  • PE and sport premium (PSG)
  • 16 to 19
  • Senior mental health leads

We chose these funding streams because they represent a mixture of:

  • financial and academic year allocations
  • funding that is a given, and funding that academies have to claim
  • platforms and formats for sharing allocation information – including spreadsheets on GOV.UK, on screen in View Latest Funding, and PDF statements on Document Exchange
  • platforms and formats for sharing payment information – including payment schedules on Document Exchange and payment information on GOV.UK guidance pages

Goal 2: prepare for and carry out user research sessions with internal operators

We held 6, hour long process mapping workshops – one for each funding stream. The workshops included colleagues from digital delivery, operational excellence, ESFA communications and DfE policy. We also sent out a follow up survey to participants.

We’ll be working on the process maps in future sprints, and bringing in our findings from user research and content analysis.

Goal 3: complete content analysis for 16 to 19 content

Our findings from content analysis for the 16 to 19 funding stream include:

  • allocation statements and payment schedules are available as PDFs in Document Exchange
  • allocations are also published on GOV.UK for transparency purposes
  • notifications are sent by email and ESFA update
  • analysis of the funding breakdowns, for example payment schedule is displayed by academic year
  • there are some differences in language used for different documents

We’ll be adding our findings from content analysis into our process and journey mapping for each funding stream.

Goal 4: start to prepare for external user research

The timing of the general election meant that we were unable to recruit external users for user research via usual channels. Instead we had to find alternative methods for recruitment.

The central Research Operations team had a newly created panel of users from academies, including 65 finance business professionals. We worked with them to invite these users to participate in research. We’ll be scheduling research sessions in the next sprint, before the school year ends for the summer holiday. We’ve also started on the discussion guide and required consent forms.

To get input from more users, we also plan to send out a survey out via the ESFA update after the election.

Sprint 4 goals

Next sprint, our goals are to:

  • complete process mapping for 2 funding streams
  • send survey to external users
  • prepare for and carry out user research with external users
  • pull out key content findings and implement into process map for 2 funding streams

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