Decision details

Dartington Service Design Lab

Decision Maker: Cabinet Member - Education and Skills (Cllr Shaid Mushtaq)

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: Yes


In November 2018, Oldham submitted a partnership bid with Tameside and Rochdale for the DFE Early Years Outcomes Fund. Dartington Service Design Lab collaborated with the 3 LAs in developing and writing the bid and were identified as the key delivery partner.
The purpose of the partnership bid was to collaboratively work to build upon the existing GM early years strategy and develop a more targeted, locally nuanced strategy, grounded in the best data and evidence, engagement with our communities and understanding of our local systems and associated system behaviours. The programme of work involved:
•undertake a robust strategy development process – supported and facilitated by the Dartington Service Design Lab, including supporting, testing and learning
•identifying three specific activities will be identified – either existing evidence-based practice, local service improvement efforts, or local innovations/designs partnership for submission to the Harvard/Dartington Frontiers of Innovation cluster. The purpose is to use research to accelerate and increase impact of the agreed activity by drawing on the best available science and more rapid/iterative approaches to refinement and rigorous evaluation
•Building system leadership and workforce culture change
In addition to the above Oldham invited the Local Government Association to undertake an early years peer review. Following a robust 4 day peer review process key recommendations included:
•Pull together an integrated approach to pre birth to 5 years
•Create a 3-5 year partnership SMART action plan with an agreed outcomes framework.
•Ensure that one Early Years offer is promoted across all services.
•Agree and implement a whole system workforce training and development strategy.
Whilst the partnership bid was unsuccessful, Oldham was keen to ensure that the programme of activity developed by Dartington Service Design Lab was undertaken as this would address the areas for development identified through the self-assessment process and the LGA peer review.
As a result, a bid was made to the Oldham Opportunity Area (OA) Board for additional investment to undertake the high level programme of work developed by Dartington Service Design Lab.
The Board has provided 80k funding with the expectation that the fund is used towards the 105k costs for commissioning Dartington Service Design Lab to undertake the work programme. An additional 25k is being provided by the LA from funding provided by GMCA for implementation of the GM Pathways to Talking programme.
The programme of work for improving outcomes in early years has been designed and developed by Dartington Service Design Lab and is a unique product in the market place. As such, there is no viable competition in the market place to deliver the programme in the borough of Oldham.


RESOLVED - That: exemption from contract procedure rules 213a in order to make a direct award to Dartington Service Design Lab. Dartington Service Design Lab is an independent research charity committing to application of research and evidence to children’s services policy and practice, grounded in local community contexts.

Reasons for the decision:

Option 1 - : Engage with the market via The Chest Portal.
This Option would pose a significant risk in the following areas:
•Non compliance with the expectations and purpose of the funding provided by and agreed through the OA board
•Commissioning an organisation to deliver work developed by Dartington Service Design Lab could breach Intellectual property Law
•May not result in the commissioning of
an organisation with the relevant experience and expertise
•Will delay programme delivery
Option 2 - Award the contract to Dartington Service Design Lab:
This would pose minimal risk to the council due to:
•Meeting the requirements of the funding as agreed with the OA board
•The significant expertise, knowledge and experience within Dartington Service Design Lab in undertaking work of this nature and significance
•The initial work already undertaken in developing the original EYs Outcomes bid by Dartington Service Design Lab means that they are ready to start the programme of work and will be able to deliver the programme at pace.

Alternative options considered:

Option 1

Publication date: 02/08/2019

Date of decision: 02/08/2019

Effective from: 10/08/2019

Accompanying Documents: