The BSF Programme in Sandwell was seen as an opportunity for students to aspire, attainment to be improved and for the entire community, over time, to be more motivated to achieve positive outcomes.
It would be fair to say that the Agilisys team in Sandwell is similarly motivated – we don’t see this as an IT roll out programme, we see it as a chance (perhaps the chance of a lifetime) to change attitudes and raise aspiration.
These programmes are challenging in IT terms, and you have to be prepared to take pain and hardship to work in them. The benefits are, however, exponentially more rewarding when you know you have given 10,000 young people a better opportunity than they would have expected.
Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, located in the West Midlands between Wolverhampton and Birmingham, faces a number of challenges and finds itself below the national average on many indicators of social and economic deprivation.
Improving education in particular is seen by the Council as key for improving the overall wellbeing of the area, however specific educational challenges exist, including a large proportion of the area’s pupils (32.5%) being eligible for free school meals, and a higher percentage of adults (compared to the national average) leaving school with no qualifications.
To help not only improve education but break the ongoing cycle of deprivation, Sandwell has developed a Local Education Partnership (LEP), called ‘Sandwell Futures’, and is embarking on a major £370m Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.
Through Sandwell Futures, BSF aims to rebuild or renew every secondary school in the borough over the next few years, transforming education through the use of 21st century ICT, driving up achievement and increasing community access to facilities in schools.
Agilisys was appointed ICT Partner to the LEP in 2009, as part of a 10-year strategic partnership won by consortium Environments for Learning (E4L), which also includes Interserve, Barclays Private Equity, and Cambridge Education.
Over the course of the partnership, Agilisys will deliver ICT hardware, software, infrastructure and a managed ICT service, starting with initial sample scheme projects at Rowley Learning Campus and Smethwick Learning Campus. We have now completed the implementation projects at these two campuses, as well as phase one works at Tipton, Wednesbury and the Oldbury Academy.
The projects are supported by a transformational framework under which ICT will be delivered. Along with our partners within E4L, Agilisys continues to work with school to deliver ICT design, stakeholder consultations, and technology supplier and product evaluations, transforming educational delivery to local students.
Agilisys has also become part of Sandwell’s online business network, finditinsandwell.co.uk, and provides opportunities for local organisations to participate in provision of ICT services.
Agilisys is also supporting the authority in generating opportunities for apprentices; five are already employed and more will follow during 2013.
More than simply being a rebuilding project, Agilisys and Sandwell Futures aims to transform opportunities for young adults, creating a platform for economic growth across the Authority area.