FAQ About The Local Offer Membership
Does The Local Offer receive funding from the Dept of Education?
There is no external government or other funding for The Local Offer which is a social enterprise embedded within the SEND reforms of September 2014, complimenting the work of local authorities, but independent of local authority control.
Why is it called The Local Offer?
This aspect of the SEND reforms is one area where there is the potential for real transformation in how services for children & young people with SEN and disability have traditionally been seen, accessed or commissioned. However, it seems a more logical approach is to look at what is happening to SEND provision across the country as a whole, rather than within artificial confines of local authority boundaries.
At the time of the concept for establishing this social enterprise, in mid 2013, the local offer domain names were available to buy and these were chosen as the main platform for this service. This is given that the local offer as a policy initiative was first broached in 2010 in the SEN Green Paper: Support & Aspiration. As Founder, Heather Stack was delivering training to a number of services on the local offer as far back as February 2011.
Why should anyone pay to register with The Local Offer?
Without funding to support this social enterpise, there is no alternate means of making it sustainable, without going along a route of taking on substantial advertising. The web platform is a bespoke design, based around 9 months preparation and exploratory work talking with specialist & targeted services, parents & carers, establishing how best to deliver a platform that looks at SEND provison across all of England's local authorities. So, there has been considerable investment in making this platform available for servcies across education, health & social care even before the point of launch in April 2014, and of course there is full time management of the service, and on going business costs.
What benefits are there to membership for education, health or social care services?
Membership benefits have evolved over the three years since launch. These include, but are not limited to the following -
- A unique Provider Profile page based on the information provided at registration
- A provider search function allowing visitors to the site to find specialist provision based on 6 search criteria
- A colour coded google locator pin showing your service location & indicating its geographical reach
- A personal attention to your service, sharing news & offers that are relevant to you
- Ability for each service to show up in multiple local authorities, according to the membership subscription level
- Use of The Local Offer logo on each member's own site, publicity material or other marketing
- An allocation of consultancy support via telephone, email or face to face meetings
- Special offers and invitations to conferences and events at reduced price or for free, based on collaborations with other services
- Social media sharing via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ with reciprocal likes, sharing and tweets
- Opportunities to co-create content for the site, to include in Case Studies & Articles
- Opportunities to list and promote speclal events and traiing on the Conferences & Events page
- Regular newsletter updates of latest policy news, research, Dept of Education & Dept for Health announcements
As you can see, there are many benefits to membership, which goes far beyond simply registering a service on a site and receiving no further communicaton. This is a social enterprise that champions the work of speicalist & targeted services.
What is the difference between fixed and ad hoc benefits?
Benefits are sometimes described as fixed or ad hoc, to distinguish between those which are always available and those which are sometimes available. Free conference places and other offers alway go out to fee paying members before those who joined under the previous free registration scheme.
Why is Simple Free Registration no longer available on the site?
The quick answer is that is has become unsustainable. The longer answer is that, this site was built around a membership subscription model, and incorporated, at a later point, on-line payment via Go-Cardless. The goal of free registration was to accelerate the growth of the membership base. Free registration incurred additinal web development costs and had implications for the structure of the site. There are also costs implicated for each and every registration, some of which take several weeks to conclude and sign off.
There is a cost to every registration on the site, in terms of administration, site maintennce, and then upholding the benefits of registration. In addition, free registration created a context whereby many universal services began to register on the site, something that had not occurred previously under the membership only system. It takes time to check through every registration and to notify services of the outcome regardless of whether that service is accepted on the site or not.
Are there any contacts with Local Authorities?
After an initial period of caution, and some hostility from a number of local authorities, there is now for the most part, a mutual respect and shared appreciation of the work we are all doing, which is about increasing access to services for parents, carers, children and schools. When The Local Offer published all local offers from each of England's 152 local authorities, there was a hostile reception from many authorities who defended their work, even when in some cases, there was little to defend. Although that aspect of the site is no longer a feature of such interest, as the reforms are 3 years old, updates are still added periodically, but now more frequently, shared by local authority local offer leadds.
There are also discussions ongoing with a number of local authorities looking for further collaboration, and in some cases, to share sites.
What kinds of services register with The Local Offer?
That varies considerably. There are many diverse, innovative services and approaches to SEND available, altough some may only be available in a certain postcode or are delivered by a single practitioner or team of professionals. My own personal and professional interests lie in the breadth and diversity of specialist provision for children with SEND, so I am always pleased when a less mainstream therapeutic service joins the site, such as equine assisted therapy, play therapy, outdoor based learning and support, musical interaction therapy, or as recently, a dating service for young adults with disabilities. Provided the service can show that is offers specialist or targeted provision, it can join the site. For some, it may be that their offer is universlal but within that there are components that are highly specialsed.
Why are the google locator pins coloured red, green and blue?
The colour coding system was a very early development and concept. It is used to distinguish three main categories of service - those that have a nationwide service with multiple branches or bases (red pin), those that are regional or nationwide but operate from a very small number of bases and are typically highly mobile in service delivery (green pin) and those services which are location dependent, based in a specific centre perhaps, and operate within a small geographical region (blue pin). These categories alone were subject to intensive exploration, discussions and research, despite that, for all appearance sake, it is just 3 different colours of google locator pin.
What is the Road Map of SEND Provision all about?
There is a big ambition behind the Road Map which is designed to track services that support CYP with SEND across each local authority, thus showing areas of paucity of provision but also leading by example in some cases, with a real richness & diversity of services. In the near future, there are plans for an app to be developed around the Road Map. The map can be viewed in satellite or map mode, with a zoom in and out feature, and links to the Provider Search feature on the site. Each service registered has a pop up box that appears alongside the google locator pin. One ore click takes visitors to each Provider Profile page.
If you would like to post a question to be answered, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out how to Make the Most of Your Membership by following a few simple guidelines.
Check out other Providers listed on The Local Offer via the Roadmap of SEND Provision.