Educate Services

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Educate Services's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Educate Services is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Highlighting best practice
Director James de Bass
Standards Tracker – staff
development software
Educate has worked with over 5,000 schools over a period
of ten years to better understand how teacher feedback
and appraisal can be improved. Research and surveys
from around the world consistently show that teachers are not
satisfied with the quantity or quality of the feedback they are
given, and many leave the profession within five years. Director
James de Bass believes that transforming appraisal from a
process of yearly reviews to a continuous, incremental feedback
system turns difficult conversations into positive discussions
focused on improvement.
How often do you hear either an employee or their appraiser talking about how
much they enjoyed their meeting? Employee appraisals and annual reviews must
change – they have become tick-box exercises. We at Educate believe that they
should instead be replaced with feedback that’s provided over a period of time –
and that one-way judgmental conversations should be replaced by engaging two-
way developmental discussions.
Teacher development has stagnated and become a victim of the various time
pressures faced by school leaders. Paper-based performance management systems
have become bogged down with emails, box files and unnecessary spreadsheets
– they turn what should be an engaging process into a bureaucratic nightmare.
Teachers find end-of-year meetings stressful and often don’t feel empowered
»Director: James de Bass
»Established in 2008
»Based in Barry
»No. of employees: 10
»Services: Supply of appraisal
and staff development software
to the education sector
»Have worked with the
Department for International
Trade and the British
Educational Suppliers
Association to export products
to China
Changing things with
Standards Tracker
We have developed a simple and
intuitive online software system that
helps teachers and leaders alike to
engage with their own professional
development, while also reducing the
workload associated with a traditional
paper-based system. We have spent
several years refining and updating
our software – we have honed certain
features to improve user experience
and flexibility so that it can be used in
any context, with any type of employee
and in any language.
Building on the success of our
Standards Tracker product, we have
worked with a consortium of local
authorities in Wales to implement a
new way of tracking improvement
at the school level. After recognising
the principles that we have promoted
with the software, the head of school
improvement for the consortium
adopted a reporting approach of
“little and often” rather than using
an end-of-year system. School leaders
were thus empowered to report
their judgment as to whether or
not they were on track to meet the
organisation’s developmentobjectives.
This real-time progress reporting meant
that there were no surprises for both
leaders and staff at the end of the year,
and that interventions could be provided
where they were most needed. Our
efforts to change the way analytics and
appraisal systems work – between our
collaborative approach and the systems
we have deployed – have since been
commended by OECD consultants
assisting the Welsh government.
Educating abroad – our work
in China
We have been in discussions with the
Ministry of Education in China to see
how we could adapt our software
for use in Chinese state schools.
TheNational Institute of Education
Sciences is a research think tank
operating within the department,
and through its China Future School
Lab team, it looks for products and
services that will improve the provision
of education across the country. After
conducting a review of all the software
packages available to this end, CFSL
As a result, we have recently signed
an agreement which will license
Standards Tracker as part of a stand-
alone software platform that will be
used by schools throughout China. The
opportunity to export our appraisal and
development expertise overseas would
simply not have been possible without
the comprehensive assistance of both
the Department for International Trade
and the British Educational Suppliers
Association. Together, we have
demonstrated that SMEs can tender
for and win large contracts in a global
marketplace with the support of the
UK government.
Exporting isn’t easy
In spite of our success in China, we’ve
found that education sometimes just
doesn’t seem to travel. American
schools buy American products, French Using a talent map to
match individuals to
We have
developed a
simple and
intuitive online
software system
that helps
teachers and
leaders alike to
engage with
their own
Highlighting best practice
schools buy French products, German
schools buy German products and
so on. Going abroad is tough – as a
result, you have to look at developing
countries that have no choice but to
source these kinds of platforms and
software packages globally, or work
with a government aid company.
Without the framework of the
latter, and the millions of pounds of
funding that often come along with it,
education is a difficult thing to export.
Our work on the domestic stage has
not been the smoothest process, either.
Schools simply don’t have the budgets
for the kind of software package we’re
offering. Academisation should have
helped – with local authorities no longer
purchasing on behalf of schools – but it
has, in fact, caused real fragmentation
across the sector. Small companies
lost out when councils tendered for
software packages, but winning
contracts from individual schools has
just proved to be so expensive.
We are seeing things change with
more and more schools coalescing
into multi-academy trusts – selling to
30 schools at a time is easier than just
the one – but it’s still not as efficient
as selling into a local authority. This is
why we’ve had to look overseas; our
distributor relationship in China allows
us to sell to over 5,000 schools with a
single agreement.
Looking overseas and beyond
Our exciting opportunity in China
is hopefully just one of many we’ll
encounter as we look to further
expand globally. It’s not just schools
who are looking at improving their
staff development opportunities,
either – we have received enquiries
from vocational training organisations,
colleges and universities both in the
UK and abroad who recognise the
importance of staff development.
We continually strive to improve our
products in the hope that they will
become an industry standard.
We are presently in discussions with
potential partner organisations with
the aim of co-operating on nationwide
projects in developing countries that
will improve the quality of teaching
drastically. The end goal is, of
course, a comprehensive approach
which will see us become part of a
complete solution of auditing, training
The OECD’s Teaching and International
Learning Survey revealed that:
»33 per cent of teachers observe their
peers teach
»25 per cent of evaluations identified
an area for development
»Less than half received useful
support to improve
»46 per cent never receive any form
of feedback from their leader
»50 per cent regarded it as merely an
administrative task
»78 per cent saw no link to their pay
To change the state of the education
sector, these figures and perceptions
more widely need to change. Software
alone is never a perfect solution, but
if the culture of an organisation is
remodelled, it can help to embed
habits and practices which will
facilitate real change.
Tracker has
impacted my
Ihad a lot of
evidence that
built up over one
year showing I
was going above
and beyond, and
as a result I was
rewarded with
two points
Jonathan Hunter-Kelm
Teacher at Killinghall
Primary School
Sharing best practice
with China

This article was sponsored by Educate Services. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister