https://servicetransformation.blog.essex.gov.uk/2021/09/13/local-offer-discovery-week-notes/

Local Offer Discovery - Week Notes

Child on beach in wheelchair pointing at something in the distance to an adult who is with them

Here at Service Transformation we’re excited to be working in partnership with Children's Families and Education on delivering a new and improved Local Offer. What is a Local Offer? Fair question, it was one of the first we had too! The Local Offer is a service which helps families support children with Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) to access all different kinds of information, advice and support. One of the artefacts that make up the service ecosystem is the Local Offer website.

A small team within Service Transformation is supporting a 12 week (ish) Discovery into how we can help improve the website and supporting services around it. Some key areas we’re looking to cover in our discovery include:

  • How can we make the information easier to understand for those who are not familiar with the SEND landscape?
  • How can we build a directory of support services which enables families to find exactly what they are looking for?
  • How can we make more families aware of the Local Offer so they can receive the right support?
  • How can we make sure the website is continually updated to keep it being relevant and useful to its users and the circumstances they are in?

We’re going to be working with lots of people along the way, ranging from families, young people, professionals and service providers so we’re collating our week notes here to ensure we’re keeping everyone up to date with progress and working in the open.

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Week Note 7

Here’s an update of what we've been up to in week 7 of the Local Offer project:

Bringing it all together

Last week, we brought together all the hypothesis statements, key insights, user research and Google Analytics insights into one place in preparation for the next sprint. This allows us to check our assumptions with our project sponsor and shape what we’ll deliver in our next sprint.

User Research

We also ran 2 more user research sessions: a session with a counselling service listed on the Local Offer and one with parents using Local Offer services.

Show & Tell

Join us when we share this work at our next show and tell on Thursday 18 September 2-3pm. Also, keep an eye out for our post about sprint 3 on the Service Transformation blog - we’ll link to it next week.

As ever thanks for reading & please contact st@essex.gov.uk if you have any questions.

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Week Note 6

Here’s a quick update of what we’ve been up to in week 6 of the Local Offer Discovery/Alpha:

User research

This week we had interviews with a variety of SEND professionals. We learned about the types of service available and how the local offer supports or could support professionals better.

We also started interviews with providers to learn more about the value that the Local Offer has for them and how we could make it better.

A big thank you to all those that have set aside time this past week to talk to us!

Looking at other directories

We’ve done some research looking at other Local Offers, to see what they’re doing well, and get some ideas for things that we could prototype and test.

We spoke to Tech Services about a directory for digital inclusion. We also learned more about how data can be imported and exported from Capita One.

Content review 

Analysed the top 80% of traffic to the Essex Local Offer website and the internal site search terms to understand what users are looking for and what they're having difficulty finding. This research will allow us to prototype a new taxonomy and structure to help users better navigate the guidance and content.  

Coming next

This week we’ll be pulling together our findings from research so far into a presentation that we’ll share later.

Please contact st@essex.gov.uk if you have any questions.

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Week Note 5

Here’s a quick update of what we’ve been up to in week 5 of the Local Offer Discovery/Alpha:

User Interviews

We conducted 3 more user research sessions with SEND professionals. One session was with a member of the Preparing for Adulthood service, another with a Care Home Manager and the final one with a member of the Family Hubs & 0-19 service.

We’ve also reached out to 190 service providers in the Local Offer directory to arrange user research sessions.

Linking in

We linked in with the work Tech Services are doing to support new solutions for the Register for Disabled Children (CWD) and Short Breaks Bookings & user database. There’s clear links between these and the Local Offer so we’re working together to make sure these are properly aligned.

Analytics

We’ve analysed the Google Analytics web usage data for Local Offer for insight into how long users are spending interacting with a particular page or journey on the site.

Coming next

This week we’ll be pulling together all our latest research to make sure we understand these as a team and can decide on what to focus on in the next sprint.

In the meantime please contact st@essex.gov.uk if you’ve got any q.s or feedback on the work so far.

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Week Note 4

Here’s a quick update of what we’ve been up to in week 4 of the Local Offer Discovery/Alpha:

Show & Tell

We held our first Show & Tell! It was really fantastic to share everything we’ve learnt so far and receive so much valuable feedback and ideas.

You can find the  recording of the Show & Tell here (just to note if you are external to ECC you may need to request access to view).

Research

We conducted 4 interviews with SEND professionals and have several more booked over the coming weeks.

Talking to other Local Authorities

We also spoke to teams at Hertfordshire & Buckinghamshire Councils about their experiences improving their Local Offer.

Coming next

We’re now going to be drawing together everything we’ve learnt so far to determine our focus for the next few weeks.

In the meantime please contact st@essex.gov.uk if you’ve got any q.s or feedback on the work so far.

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Week Note 3

Here’s a quick update of what we’ve been up to in week 3 of the Local Offer Discovery/Alpha:

This week, we got together as a team to write hypothesis statements based on what we've learned so far. These help us to understand any gaps in our knowledge and prioritise what we could start testing with families, the Local Offer interest group and wider stakeholders.

Research

We mapped the experience of families using the Local Offer based on our interview. This helps us understand the common pain points experienced by users.

Content and UX audits

We finished high-level content and UX audits for the website so we can gain a better understanding of what the current website offers.

Coming next

Next week, we’re writing user needs to make sure the design, architecture and content of the website is aligned to specific user needs (needs that members of the public, businesses or customers have).

We’re also looking at how to test a specific hypothesis around organising information based on a user's personal circumstances.

We also hope to see you all at the first Local Offer Show & Tell, this Thursday 3-4pm. This will be a chance for us to present what we’ve learnt so far and get feedback on next steps. If you haven’t received the invite for the Show & Tell please contact st@essex.gov.uk

Thanks for reading and we look forward to checking back in next week. In the meantime please contact st@essex.gov.uk if you’ve got any q.s or feedback on the work so far.

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Week Note 2

Here’s a quick update of what we’ve been up to in week 2 of the Local Offer Discovery/Alpha.

This week, we held 2 sessions with our Local Offer interest group. The group is made up of practitioners from social care, health and education, in addition to the young people, families and carers that use SEND services locally.

We had some interesting discussions around how trusted the local offer is and the kinds of practical information parents and carers are looking for.

Research

We held our 3rd interview with parents using the SEND local offer and started to identify some recurring themes.

Content and UX audits

We began reviewing sections of content on the local offer website to get a sense of how much content there is and in what format.

A separate review was carried out to assess whether the website is usable from a functional perspective.

Coming next

Next week, we’re meeting with the team at Buckinghamshire Council to discuss the work they’ve done to improve their local offer and how they did it.

Thanks for reading and we look forward to checking back in next week. In the meantime please contact st@essex.gov.uk if you’ve got any q.s or feedback on the work so far.

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Week Note 1

Here at Essex County Council, we recently completed a discovery where we looked at the services and support we offer children with special educational needs and disability (SEND).

We found that our SEND offer was not widely understood and that the local offer website was difficult to find and navigate. It also didn’t meet the new accessibility standards for government services.

On 26 July 2021, we presented our discovery plan to the Joint Commissioning Board for children and young people with an update on our timeline and approach for the next 12 weeks.

We kicked off this work last week. Our goal for these first two weeks is to:

  • identify different users of the service
  • plan and schedule recruitment
  • conduct interviews with parents and carers

Interest group session

We prepared for our first interest group session. This session is about researching how people are finding information about their local offer, what they do to help understand that information and how they find out about anything that’s not already included in the guidance or directory.

User research interviews

We held our first 2 interviews with parents. Next, we’ll look at interviewing users working in SEND. We’ll continue to conduct these as we find more participants who want to speak to us.

Research

We've been doing some desktop research to understand more about the sources of information parents are consuming in addition to the sources we gathered at the first interest group session.

We also spoke to Send Navigators to understand more about what they do and the work they've already done on mapping the SEND landscape.

Thanks for reading and we look forward to checking back in next week. In the meantime please contact st@essex.gov.uk if you’ve got any q.s or feedback on the work so far.

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3 comments

  1. Comment by Mr M P Cole Esq posted on

    Great stuff! Keep it up!

    Reply
  2. Comment by Neil Lawrence posted on

    Hey team. I just had a bounce-back from your service.transformation@essex.gov.uk email address. Am keen on joining your show and tell on the 18th - is that possible?

    Reply

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