Webinar recording

This video is a recording of the webinar: "MAT Quality Assurance using the DfE MAT Assurance Framework", delivered to trust CEO's via eventbrite.com

If you'd like to be notified of similar sessions - please email dan@opeus.org.

Transcript

Okay. Let's get started. Quickly introducing myself. My name is Daniel O'Brien. I'm one of the directors at Opeus. We've been in operation now for about 25 years, working in the education sector. For about the last 10 years, my personal focus has actually been on self-evaluation and improvement planning. Really helping others look at what they do with a view to doing it better.

 

If we think about it, that essentially is what quality assurance is. It's looking at our practices, our policies, how we improve things, and then looking strategically at how we can either sustain that improvement or that growth. Or how we can rectify certain things that need improving. Today's webinar is going to primarily focus on trust quality assurance using the DFE assurance framework.

 

I'm going to break the webinar down into three different sections, really. The first section, we're going to look at the framework. We're just going to look at what it is, where you can find it, and ways that you can use it. And then, secondly, we're going to focus down on the Abacus model. We're going to see how this really simple, sophisticated process can be used in conjunction with the DFE framework to really simplify and streamline quality assurance.

 

We're going to use an online tool to help us do that. And then, we're going to look at what you can take away from this session. As participants in this webinar, you'll have online tools that you can go away, that you can use within your trust, and hopefully put into action some of the things that you've benefited from this session. In order to talk about the framework, I think it's appropriate that I just share my screen and we just bring it up on screen. Just bear with me while I do that. I'm just going to go into my internet browser.

 

I'm actually just going to jump onto the DFE website. You can navigate to this, or you can find this in Google, under MAT Assurance Framework. You'll see there's a page that links off to various guidance and various bits of information about the trust framework. And then, you can just open it up in a PDF. I'm not going to talk at length about this, because obviously you can open up this document later on. Or you've probably already seen it or are already using it. Basically, 14 different elements in six different headings, and they're areas that you can evaluate the quality that's taking place at the moment within the trust.

 

And if we just scroll down, you'll see that you get various challenge questions. Questions that you can ask yourself. Points that you can consider. Then, you get some illustrations of what red looks like, what weak looks like, and what green looks like. And then, a nice little column on this right-hand side, where you can give yourself a rating. I suppose that is the first step. That is the first stop step of self-evaluation.

 

As with a lot of these frameworks, that is what they are designed to do. To get us evaluating, to get us thinking about the quality of what we have at the moment. You'll see that when we start to use the Abacus model, we take it a step further. We want to, yes, use these frameworks to help us evaluate, but we want to use them also to diagnose issues and to look at ways that we can improve. And that is what's different about what we do. We take frameworks like this and we make them usable. We make them lead to impact within the organisation.

 

While we're still talking about the assurance framework, one of the places that you can go to have a look at how it's being used is the MATvista website. This website has information about products, but the blog is mainly about the assurance framework. It's about risk registers. If I just scroll down very briefly, you'll see here that there's a range of articles that you can dive into and read at your leisure. That's matvista.com.

 

This is the framework. This is what we're going to use. We're not going to use it in this word document or PDF format. We're going to make it far more interactive and far more usable. At this point, I'm just going to stop the share. And I'm just going to talk to you about the Abacus model. Now, the Abacus model has been used in education, in organisations for about 40 years. It's not something new. It's nothing to do with maths incidentally, but it is to do with an Abacus.

 

What I'd like to do is explain the model for you. Because this is the model that we're going to apply to the DFE assurance framework, which will make it more usable, more impactful for others in our leadership of the organisation. Let's take this Abacus. Now, this model was actually designed by John Pearce. He was a head teacher. He was an inspector for a number of years. But more importantly, he was a school improver and very much worked with individuals and organisations. Coaching them, working with them through a process of evaluation, diagnostic, and improvement planning.

 

He used an Abacus to do it, because basically, you can break down any area or any function of an organisation or an individual's performance and put it onto an Abacus. Each Abacus bead can represent an area that we evaluate. If I have an Abacus for a school, we might break it down and say ... Actually, this first bead here, this represents quality of education. This bead represents behaviour or leadership or personal development within the school.

 

Over here on the Abacus, this represents outstanding or excellent or world class. Or in the case of the DFE assurance framework, this represents green and over here is red. Now, individuals or even teams could quite instinctively slide beads to where they think they are. In a trust, you might have a bead that represents your vision and your culture. Where would you put that bead? Would you instinctively slide that up to green in outstanding or brilliant?

 

Your leadership in the trust. Where would you put that? Individuals could make judgments. But then, what John would do is work through this process with them, and start to talk to them about the criteria that they'd base that judgement on. Because it's alright instinctively making a positive, optimistic judgement. But what standards have we based that judgement on? What grade descriptors? What challenge questions? What KPIs?

 

Often, the discussion would lend itself to talking about criteria. That's where the framework comes in, because it's full of criteria. But then, it would go further than that. We'd talk about the evidence that could be used to justify a judgement. If I take this bead and it represents governance in a school, or governance in our schools, and we slide it over here ... What evidence do we have to justify that judgement? What policies? What practices? What people can we point to, can we use as evidence to justify that judgement?

 

That's self-evaluation. And that's the justification of it. But it even goes further than that. We'd also discuss the helping factors. What things are taking place? What procedures? What people? What resources have pushed this bead in the right direction? What has got it to where it is today? On the opposite side, what are the hindering forces? If it's over here and we're struggling in this area ... What are the pressures? What are the barriers? What are the constraints that are pushing it in this direction?

 

This model ... I've kind of skipped a step. If we can talk about the helping factors and the hindering factors, how do we strengthen these? How do we do them more often? How do we implement them wider across the trust? And if we've got hindering factors, how do we tackle them? What do we need to do to remove them? Because if we can take away the hindering factors, this bead will move in the right direction towards green or brilliant.

 

This model, this visual way of talking about self-evaluation and diagnostic and improvement planning. It was used in schools. It was used in organisations. It was used in enterprise and business. We adapted it. Or we adopted it, rather. We took it and we use it with schools, and we have done for over 10 years now. It has found a natural home in school leadership and in multi-academy trusts. Let me share my screen now with you and show you how we've taken this tool, this model, and how we apply it in various areas. More specifically, how we apply it to trust leadership or trust quality assurance.

 

I'm going to go back into my web browser. Over here, we've got the trust framework. We'll be using that, but you can see the format that's in at the moment. It's in its text format. That's how it's distributed to academy trusts. What I'm going to do is use iAbacus. It's the online version of the Abacus model. What I show you in this webinar today, you will receive as a participant. Everything I show you, you'll be able to take away. You'll be able to use. You'll hopefully be able to start and improve your quality assurance documentation and make real use of what we're about to look at.

 

You may have come across MATvista and iAbacus. They're both tools based on the same model. MATvista, primarily for MAT risk registers, quality assurance, SEND reviews. Everything that a trust might do around a trust. iAbacus is wider than that. iAbacus encompasses that, but it's also used by head teachers, middle leaders, individual members of staff, to look at their own professional growth and their own reflection. We'll just use the Abacus model in its online form.

 

What we've managed to do is to load this tool with a range of templates. Templates can be for all sorts of different aspects of school provision or MAT effectiveness. The one template that we're interested in today is this MAT quality assurance framework. I'm just going to create an Abacus or start an Abacus based on that framework. This is what it looks like.

 

If we look across the top, first of all, we get the levels that are brought in from the framework. Interestingly, it's not just red, amber, green. You may be familiar with this. We have an Amber Red, and an Amber Green. That gives you that variation within that middle ground when you're making a judgement. Are we nearer the green rather than nearer the red? We'll come to that in a moment.

 

Down on the left-hand side here, you can see the different 14 elements of this framework and how they're split up into the six different headings. As with the original Abacus, sliding beads on this wooden apparatus behind me, we slide beads on an Abacus. We pick up the bead and we slide it to where we feel we are functioning at. Our level of effectiveness or performance. Clarity of purpose in the trust. Where would you say it is? Where would you say it is for your trust?

 

Maybe you'd confidently put the bead up here in green. That's fine. That might be where it is. Now, as I drop a bead onto the Abacus, it wants to guide us through that process. This same model that was used originally. Now, we're just going to hold off on that for the moment. We're just going to make judgements in the other areas. Often, this is how the tool is used. We make an array of judgements, because it straight away shows us where we're quite confident and where we might feel we've got a need for development.

 

You might do this individually. As a CEO, you might log in and just do this. You might do this on a whiteboard. You could actually do this on a flip chart, on a huge piece of A3 white paper with a pen, and draw a dot on a line to represent your judgement. That is how that original model was used. But today, we're obviously using the interactive tool, so we make a judgement.

 

Let's have a look at where we are. 2B. Recruiting, developing, and retaining talent. We might put the bead hesitantly in the middle somewhere and say, "Actually, this is not a strength in our trust. Our recruitment and our developing talent. Our talent management." Let's work through the process for this area. Let's have a look at the criteria.

 

When we open up the Abacus and we move to the bead, the criteria that we get in this case is a series of challenge questions and some additional questions. These are prompts. These are going to help us make a more accurate judgement about how things are going. It could be that, on reflection, we discuss these things and we move the bead a little higher or a bit more to the right. We do actually get here examples of highly effective practice. What green or strong looks like.

 

It could be that our trust has quite a lot of work to do in this area. Maybe our bead is more in the red? Again, here, we've got a descriptor. If I was using an Abacus for school improvement, it might load in the EIF and it might show me the after-grade descriptor. If I was using an Abacus for my professional growth, it might show me the teacher's standards or some KPIs that I'm working towards.

 

Either way, at this stage, what we're trying to do is help people make an accurate judgement. It could be maybe we're not confident enough to say into that strong area, but we're close. We're just here. Top end of Amber Green. Now, often when we're self-evaluating ... It may be you've come across this in your work already with school leaders and in schools. We often get obsessed or focused on the judgement, the label. What number do we give ourselves? What's our rating?

 

It can be important. It shows where we are on a journey, but even if we say we are green or outstanding, there's probably still things we can do to improve. We don't want to get overly concerned about the label that we give ourselves. We want to see where we are on this conduit or on this continuum. And then, we want to move to the next stage. It's the same with the Abacus model. Where do we think we are? What do we base that on? What's our evidence to justify that judgement?

 

This is where we move through to the next stage here. Evidence. Now, when we're thinking about evidence in your trust, or in a school, any organisation ... Evidence will come in all sorts of shapes and forms. Some of it might be data. Hard data. Numbers. Some of it might be qualitative. Feedback, surveys, comments from colleagues or inspectors. With iAbacus, or with any tool really, you should be able to pull that in its different formats and signpost it.

 

I think signposting is a good way of thinking about evidence. What is it we already have? What is it that we're already doing that justifies this judgement? How can we support this judgement? What commentary can we make? With iAbacus, you've just got this text box here. I'm going to type in some evidence. I have got a tool that helps me do that. You'll see that it types in for me. Wouldn't it be nice if we had something like this that just typed in our evidence for us and signposted it?

 

I'd probably make that into a bullet point list. That's going to keep it fairly clean and concise. Now, if we do mention various data, or surveys, or maybe we have an online portal that we've got some screenshots of ... We can link to these things. We use iAbacus to centralise the evidence and we point to it. Maybe in your trust or in your schools, you've got different management information systems. You've got different data sets. You normally can get Excel data or spreadsheets and link to it.

 

What I'll do here is I'll just type in some links. Perhaps those files are in Google Drive or SharePoint. Whatever your system, normally when you've got evidence, you just want to point to it and reference it. It could be that you want to attach a very specific file. Here, we're talking about recruitment and how that might be wrapped around our vision and our mission as a trust. We might include some example job listings that would be relevant. Hopefully, we'd be building that vision statement into the job listings, because that's the kind of talent that we want to attract.

 

We signpost our evidence. Again, if I'm using this tool as a school leader, or even as an individual member of staff, I will have evidence to support my judgement. But then, we move on now. What we want to be able to do is to move through evaluation into a diagnostic process. Because evaluation and knowing where we are is important, but we want to look at how we can improve. We move from evidence into analysis. The process that we use for the analysis is basically force field analysis. The forces that are pushing us or the organisation in either direction.

 

It goes back to the Abacus model. When we slide our bead in, we put it at a certain point. We know there are things that have got us to that point, that are helping, and we call them helping factors. But on the opposite side of that, we also have hindering factors. The tool just allows us to list them. You don't have to use the online tool. Again, you could do this on a whiteboard. You could do it on a flip chart. Let's type in some helping factors. Again, I've got a helper that will just do that for me.

 

We've got some example helping factors going in there. We can think of as many as we can and put them in. If you're doing this in a team or a group-based session, you'll get different helping factors from individuals. You'll also get different hindering factors. There may be some individuals that are quite forthcoming with the barriers. They're good problem solvers and they can think of the problems that need to be solved. We've typed those into the right-hand side. Again, we just list the various hindering factors. Things pushing us in the opposite direction.

 

At this point, we can start to prioritise those. There'll be certain things that we know are bigger barriers than others. Maybe more urgent than others. Interestingly, when we are doing force field analysis, we can even look ahead and think, "What might be hindering us in the future? What things might help us?" It is normally about looking at the situation that we are currently in, but you can use this tool proactively and forecast things that are going to happen in the future. Barriers that we can almost prepare for.

 

We can prioritise the helping and hindering factors. We can do this very straightforward diagnostic process. Now, the beauty of this is that this kind of thinking sets up our action planning. When we're doing quality assurance or we're doing risk management or risk mitigation ... We think about the issue. We look at what's affecting it. And then, we put plans in place. Now, with iAbacus or with the Abacus model, the idea is to move the bead in the right direction.

 

What we want to be able to do are to strengthen these things. That might mean doing them more often. It might mean deploying them wider across the trust. Let's make sure these things happen across all of our scores. We want to be tackling or weakening the hindering factors. These things that we've identified on this side, these are the things we need to tackle. Because by removing the hindering factors, we allow the bead to move in the right direction. So it naturally leads through to our action planning.

 

Now, in the action planning here, you'll see the helping and the hindering factors that we've already diagnosed, and that you and your teams will have probably diagnosed together. Now, as we've said, we want to strengthen the helping factors and weaken the hindering factors. Do you think it's fair to say that we can work on all of these issues all at the same time? That really wouldn't be strategic. What we want to be able to do is to prioritise some, and maybe even put a few of them off. Maybe for another day or another cycle of self-evaluation.

 

There may be things in here that actually we can't change. We've identified them in the analysis. Brilliant. But we can't change them. They're not under our circle of influence. We have no control over them. The first stage, when you're looking at action planning, or when you're looking at risk mitigation, is to identify those priorities. Some of them, we can just move straight to the top. Others, we may hide. We might just take them off the action planning. They're still here in the analysis. We're still aware of them. We still know they're there, but in the action planning, they're not our focus.

 

Let's just take some of these out. What we'll do is we'll look at expanding this issue, and we'll look at tackling it. We click on it to expand it. And then, we get a planning strip. Now, these four questions here. These are just natural questions that are used in all forms of action planning or risk mitigation. What are we going to do about it? Who's going to be responsible? Or who's going to lead on that? What does our success criteria look like? What are we trying to achieve?

 

How will we know this action is having an impact? When do we need to do it by? Or how often do we need to do this? With any of those helps and hinders, we get a planning strip. It's simply a case of entering what we intend to do. I'll just type that in now, as an action. Who's going to lead on that? It might be a central team. It might be a specific individual at a school. It might be a dedicated member of staff that you've got responsible for this area that you're evaluating. We'll put some names or a team in here.

 

It is important to try and consider your success criteria. Often, this will actually impact what the action is. If we're going to deploy some training or some resources, does the action also incorporate a level of surveying? Are we going to find some feedback out? Hopefully, after this session, you'll give me some feedback on this webinar. That's often what it's about. It's about looking at the action. Did it work? Did it have the desired outcome that we intended? Do we maybe need to go back and work on this a little bit more?

 

Our success criteria goes in there. A deadline. That's fairly straightforward. Often, when we're working in schools or in the education sector, things happen once a year. Or once a term. That might be the case. We might need to do something once a year. We're not sure exactly when, but we need to put a plan in place, to make sure this happens every year. And then, over time, you might actually want to update your progress on this action.

 

You might be reporting to stakeholders, trustees, governors. You might want to share your Abacus. We'll look at that a bit closer in a moment, but you may want to share your Abacus with others and actually have an update on progress. We've got a really simple progress slider in here. We can just choose a value. We're halfway through this or 20% of the way through this. It's an estimation. It's difficult, isn't it? To put an exact percentage on a progress bar like this.

 

But we can make an estimation of how far through this action we are. We may even enter some notes on this and say, "Actually, we've delivered this training." Or, "We've presented it to the leadership teams. We're waiting on feedback." That's where we're at currently. Or later down the line, we might say, "Actually, we're fairly close to completion on this." Or, "We've actually completed it." Actually, let's put some evidence of impact. Let's attach some of that feedback. Let's see how it went.

 

Let's just recap how we've used the tool here. It uses the Abacus model. We slid those beads to make some judgements. We then entered the criteria section, and had a look at the questions. The challenge questions. In some Abacuses, we even have rag-rateable statements here that allow you to make a breakdown of different judgements. But we made an overall judgement about where we were at. We then considered the evidence.

 

Hopefully, in your organisation, you've already got evidence in place and you just need to point to it. We don't need to generate it. We just need to identify it, and then say what it shows. That's our evidence section. We looked at the analysis. We diagnosed things that were pushing us in the right direction. Things that got us to where we were. Often, I hear individuals say that, "Sometimes in the helping factors, we repeat some of the things that are in our evidence section." That's fine. It's a way of celebrating the good work you're already doing.

 

And if you're sharing this Abacus with others, people's eyes tend to go to the helping and hindering factors. What you're actually doing is making them ultimately aware of things that are bearing on performance at the moment. And then, finally, we took some of those priority issues and we tackled them. We could actually, in here, extend or expand one of the helping issues. We're not necessarily tackling a helping issue. We're strengthening it. We might put an action in place to make sure that this staff development hub that we've got is actually used effectively.

 

Some of our new schools that have come into the trust, they may be slow to adopting. You can see how it would strengthen those helping factors, weaken those hindering factors, and build our action plan. Now, with any quality assurance, or with any self-evaluation and strategic plan, you often need to share it with others. One of the simplest ways is just to export your Abacus as a PDF document and share the PDF document. Up here, you'll see there's a link to Export PDF.

 

If I just click on Export, it will give me that document. You'll see that it's got the Abacus format on the front. There's our bead positions. But if we go down to the bead that we worked on, which was recruitment and talent management, you will see that our evidence is in place. The things we signposted. We've got our helping and hindering factors, our diagnostic, but we've also got our detailed action plan. We've got a continuum there. Right from judgement. Right through to action planning. We probably would update that over time.

 

If I go back into my Abacus, we'd carry out some of those actions. They were dedicated to certain individuals with time scales on. Hopefully, we'd see those implemented. Now, if we implement our actions, what are we trying to achieve? We're trying to move that bead in the right direction. Now, we might log into the tool, and we might nudge the bead in the right direction. And that is perfectly fine. That's what we want to see. That movement in the right direction.

 

But why not pick up a new bead and make a new judgement? Say, "Actually, this is where we were as an organisation. But by carrying out those actions, by reducing those hindering factors, we are now here. We might have moved right up into green." Strong. It would recognise that we've made a new judgement. Now, we don't want to re-enter everything that we've entered before. Because somebody might have spent a great deal of time going through the evidence and the analysis. What we want to do is build on that.

 

This is where we get into that cycle of self-evaluation. We've done a lot of the thinking already, but we need to strengthen it. Copy across everything that you've entered already. You'll see straight away that actually we have a new bead on the Abacus. Our old bead, our previous judgement, where we were is still there. Quality has improved. We might have sustained some of that good performance, but we've added to it. What we might do now is open that bead back up again, and we might supplement the evidence. Because we might have some new data or some new feedback.

 

We might enter that and actually attach a new Excel file or whatever that may be. We might highlight that. We might go into the analysis and say, "This issue is not a priority at the moment. Actually, this issue, we've tackled it. We can actually take it out of the Abacus." But logic would probably say, "There may be new barriers, new issues." I'm sure, pre-COVID, nobody imagined the barriers and restrictions and changes that would happen within the sector.

 

You would put those in. You would say, "Okay. We have a new issue. It is a priority issue. We need to move that to the top. It is going to impact quality. It's going to impact our performance. What are we going to do about it?" Let's go into our action planning and work through it. You can see there's a natural cycle here of self-evaluation and improvement planning. There's a natural cycle of quality assurance. Actually, the bead positions, where they are, it's quite motivating to have a bead here.

 

As we demonstrate our growth, there's no restriction there. We can move again and we can copy that across. Hopefully, over time, we're going to demonstrate that improvement. We've made judgements. We've exported PDFs. One of the other things that you will probably want to do is collaborate with others. Very rarely do we have CEOs, or executive head teachers, sat there in full control of that Abacus, not sharing and not working with anybody else. You collaborate.

 

Now, with the Abacus tool, we allow you to collaborate online. If I just refresh my screen, that'll just centralise that menu for me. What we can do is we can collaborate. We click on collaborate. It will give us the option to choose the type of collaborator that we want to work with. Often, you might want to invite someone just to be a viewer. You just want to give them access to your Abacus. It might be a trustee or a colleague within the organisation. We want them just to look at it, so invite them as a viewer.

 

You may want them to actually contribute to it. You may want them to slide their bead. Where do they think we are? Let's have them slide a bead and maybe put their evidence in. Why do they think that? What do they think is helping and hindering? What do they think we should do about it? You can use the tool in a very 360 degree approach way. Really collaborative. Very empowering. Because don't forget, you are allowing them to make a judgement. We're using their professional judgement and we're allowing them to support it.

 

Alternatively, you may just want someone to work with you on your Abacus. You may want someone to actually work with you on the evidence and add to the helps and hinders. They may have an area of responsibility, a bead to look after, so you would invite them as an editor. With your Abacus account ... As a participant of this webinar, we're going to give you a user account for yourself. You can also request a collaborator account.

 

When you get the email giving you access to this tool, if you need an additional account for your trust to work with a colleague, just request that through the email. We'll embed that into your account, so you have collaboration there. The tool is fairly straightforward. The model, the approach that we use is proven. It isn't just about quality assurance. One of the benefits of using a model or an approach is that it's universal. You can apply it to anything.

 

Trust quality assurance using the DFE framework is probably a priority. But what about your risk register? What about your SEND review? These things can all be done in the Abacus tool. If I just open a new Abacus and choose a different template ... In this case, a MAT Risk Register. You can use the same tool for this process. But look at the model. It's exactly the same. We have areas down on the left to evaluate. Aspects of risk.

 

If I scroll down here, you'll see we've got strategic risk, management information risk. You pick up a bead, just like you would do with the quality assurance, and you make a judgement. Where do we think it is? Strategic risk. Maybe we are really confident there isn't a strategic risk in our organisation. You drag the bead to green. Then, the first stage of the process. What criteria have you based that judgement on? Let's have a look at the criteria.

 

Now, here, rather than seeing a series of challenge questions or great descriptors or professional competencies ... What we have here are rag-rateable criteria. What we can do is we can go through it, and just make a decision about the level of risk in each of these areas. Now, if we confidently put the bead up here in green. Maybe they're not the top end of green. Maybe here.

 

If we put the bead here, but then we evaluate all of these sub areas, and we find that actually there is still quite a bit of work to do ... We can even add notes to some of these if we want to. We couldn't, in all honesty, make a professional judgement that risk did not exist. We may have to bring that back down to here. You'll see that, in the Abacus tool, we can use all sorts of criteria and frameworks. The model is the same.

 

Interestingly, when you are doing a risk register or a risk analysis, especially within a trust, part of it is about recognising and identifying that risk. But isn't it also about putting actions in place to mitigate that risk? That's what the Abacus model would allow. It would allow you to evidence where you're currently at. You might signpost audits and policies and procedures here.

 

But the analysis would allow you to say, "We have to be honest here. We have issues with this." Whatever it may be. "This is what we need to tackle." Therefore, what you're actually doing is recognising the risk, but putting your mitigation strategies in place. Again, you would use the Abacus model. It might be that, over time, you actually mitigate that risk and you move to this level. We just follow the same process and we can do the same reporting and the same customisation.

 

What I'd also like to show you, if it's okay, is the ability to customise an Abacus. What we've looked at so far are picking up these templates that are loaded into the system. There are templates for subject leaders within schools. Head teachers, for their professional development. If you pick up a template that already exists, like the quality assurance framework ... Excuse the noisy transport that we've got going by at the moment.

 

But if you've got a template here and you want to customise this for your trust, because you've got focus areas or additional areas that you want to evaluate, all Abacuses are easily customisable. Because we're using a model, a universal approach, it means that if we just change the template, we can follow the same process. If I click on here to customise, it could be that actually for our initial evaluation, we want to hide some of these areas so we can take them out. They're not priority areas for us at the moment.

 

But actually down here, we might want to add some focus areas to look at. It could be that you want to evaluate buildings and grounds within the trust. You might put that in here. You might want to look at facilities or SMSC and British values. Either way, you can build into your Abacus those additional areas. Therefore, when you use the tool and you follow the process, you can slide a bead for where buildings and grounds are within the trust. And then, you can work through the model.

 

Now, there's one final thing that I want to show you before we go through question and answers. That's the ability to combine the import of others when they've used an Abacus. I see a lot of systems and a lot of documentation about data dashboards, and about the amalgamation of resource and data sets that you can look at a trust level. They are very informative and they generate a lot of information. What we do with an Abacus is slightly different. We allow you to build a central Abacus that controls or that allows you to look at all of the different insights that you've gathered from people.

 

Let's say, for example, in your trust, or in your group of schools or your organisation, you empower others with an Abacus so that they can evaluate. They can diagnose issues and put together action plans. What the tool allows you to do very easily is to put them into folders. Maybe here, we've got some academy action plans. And then, it allows you to combine them and then just overlay them. What we're looking at here are the combined Abacus beads from a number of users.

 

Now, that could be a number of schools. It might be a number of departments. Subject leaders might have made Abacuses, made a  judgement about the level of effectiveness, and then followed the process. But straight away, on this Abacus, we can identify those that need support. Those that are struggling. Maybe even some of the focus areas down here. Like the effective use of pupil premium or personal development and British values in the schools that we work with.

 

You can identify those that need support. You can look at their evidence. Why have they made that judgement? What's their evidence behind that? What did they think is helping or hindering them? What are their actions to improve? Or on the flip side, slightly more positively, we've been looking at this good practice that we probably want to replicate across the trust. Across the group of schools that we work with.

 

In a school, if these represented individual subject leaders, we might have some excellence that we want to pass across to other subject leaders. You can see what we're looking at here is a range of insights of those that have used the Abacus tool. Like we did with those that maybe were struggling, we can identify ... Maybe there's three schools or three academies that have excellent leadership in management. Who are they? What's their judgement? Why have they made that judgement? What's their evidence to support it? What got them to that point?

 

What were the helping factors that has pushed their bead to that level? How could they share that? How could they share some of those techniques, what they're already doing with others, in the trust? Incidentally, one of the ways that I heard that some trusts use this tool is that they will do a current Abacus for the schools they have in the trust. And then, when they consider bringing a new school into the trust, they do an Abacus. What it does is it shows where that school will contribute and where that school will build in capacity in the trust. But also, where they will need support.

 

It can be used on an ongoing basis. Or it can be used in an initial assessment. You can also stack Abacuses. The overlay is incredibly insightful, but the stack where we can just scroll through them, that sometimes helps us to see the bigger picture. Where schools have a pattern of strength. You can see the tool is fairly simple to use. It's got a range of templates. You will now have access to it. It's full access for three months. That will include all of our guidance and support. Any customisation. Any additional training.

 

We want you to benefit from using this model, this approach in your trust. We want to prove that it's something that is very simple, incredibly sophisticated, even though it is simple, and actually it's quite sustainable. You can use it on an ongoing basis. What I'll do at this point is I'll stop the share. The screen will disappear. We've got the chat box. Feel free to type in a question. We've also got the Q&A. Happy to answer any questions on anything that we've looked at or any questions going forward.

 

How much does the tool cost? That's a very good question. We have a really simple pricing mechanism that we hope is quite fair as well. The tool, when it's used in schools and organisations in the education sector ... Because the tool is used in various sectors. But in education, it's £250 pounds per year. That's a base cost. And then, it's £25 pounds per user. If you want to use this tool on an ongoing basis, hopefully you can see that's quite an affordable fair policy. That you buy a base licence for £250 pounds, and then you just add on it the numbers of users that you want at £25 pounds each per year.

 

Sometimes we have organisations, especially in schools, they want a site licence. They don't necessarily want to be restricted by who can use the tool. They want to embed it for school improvement, middle leadership. Preparing for a deep dive. We've got subject leaders that log in, go through that self-evaluation process. Using the latest Ofsted research reviews, incidentally, which are really powerful tools for reflection for subject leaders.

 

They want to use it across the school, even for professional reflection and growth planning for teachers. So then, we have a site licence. They start at £900 pounds per school. Hopefully, you can see that we're giving you access. An initial access that gets you into the tool, gets you using it. And if you want that to grow and spread across your organisation or across the schools that you work with, then it's quite affordable and can be rolled out as you progress, as more users come on-board.

 

Any other questions? All the templates are customisable. It comes preloaded with a whole range of templates, as I've said. School leadership, middle leadership, trust management and trust quality assurance. But all the templates are customisable. Actually, we often find that a school or a trust will come to us and say, "We want to do a review of something." For instance, during COVID it was remote learning. The DFE released a remote learning provision framework. Some trusts came up with their own.

 

I was really pleasantly surprised to see that, even in that time period where it was quite harsh and people were fighting fire and dealing with problems consistently, they were still taking a strategic approach, and evaluating what they were doing with regards to remote learning. All the templates are included. Often, we create them and work with schools and trusts to create the templates that are relevant to your organisation.

 

It does work with all types of schools as well. We work quite closely with Alternative Provision. The nature of the tool means that it can be customised. Where we've got schools that have quite focused or personalised learning, we will tailor the Abacuses for them too. Is there any training? Yes. We always provide complimentary training and support with the tool. You will get that as a participant as well.

 

That will be any Zoom or Team sessions. We deliver those to groups. We will often log in and work with groups of school leaders or groups of middle leaders. Show them how to use the tool, engage with them, get them to see that it's an empowering process. That it's not top-down. It's not judgemental. It's very much developmental. That's all included within the price. In fact, some schools have fed back that a lot of the time, that is worth the money they're paying for the software. For the actual tool set.

 

Okay. Obviously, we've done a group session here. Where we've been, not speaking generically, but talking in terms of trusts and schools. Obviously, your trust might have a specific makeup. As in, it might be a group of primary schools. Or you might have a focus on secondary schools in your trust. If that's the case, and you would like a one-to-one session where we can show how the tool can be tailored even further to suit your settings and suit your schools ... Please feel free just to request a one-to-one session.

 

If I just share my screen, what I'll do is I'll show you how you can do that. It's fairly simple. If you go to our main website, which opeus.com. Opeus.com, and then it's just forward slash Daniel. That will take you to my personal booking page, so opeus.com/daniel. That will take you to here. You can then look at a time that suits you. You can just choose the day, choose the time slot, confirm it. We can meet using Zoom like we're meeting today. Or we can use Teams or Google Meet.

 

You can choose your focus area. Give me a little bit of information about your requirements, and we'll set up a one-to-one, where we can talk about your requirements. Or in fact, you may want me to present or demonstrate to a group of head teachers or a group of colleagues, to show them how the tool works. From the initial conception of what an Abacus is ... Sometimes it's difficult to see how this simple procedure or simple model will actually be deployed in an online tool.

 

Actually, seeing it firsthand through an online demonstration can actually be a good next step to getting buy-in. Often, in a trust where you want to deploy something trustwide, it is about engaging with the wider workforce. It is about saying, "Actually, as a group of head teachers, we want your viewpoint. We want your judgement on this. What do you think to this tool?" A number of times, we've done sessions across trusts, sent out a feedback form to see how those head teachers or how those middle leaders view the tool.

 

Do they want to use it? Is it something that they would be able to embed and establish in their school or across the trust? We get really positive feedback. Feel free to request a one-to-one, or indeed request a group session, where we can demonstrate it on Zoom like we have done today. I will send out an email. On it, will be information about how you can log into the tool. There will be a link to a really short feedback form. Basically, three questions that just says about this session. Did it meet your expectations and how did it go?

 

Also, we have a calendar of similar webinars. Much like today has been for the benefit of chief executives and trust leaders and looking at quality assurance at trust level ... We have similar sessions for schools where we work with school leaders on the Ofsted EIF, or the equivalent framework, and looking at school practice. And then, we have similar sessions for middle leaders who are using the Ofsted Research Reviews essentially to prepare for deep dives.

 

If you're a subject leader and you are responsible for reading or maths, or one of the key subject areas ... If you are inspected, there will be a deep dive. A close look at your subject. Isn't it better to be in a position where you've done an evaluation, you have your diagnostic, and you have your action plan already in place? That is what we do with middle leaders. Feel free to sign up or to recommend to colleagues the other series of webinars that we have and distribute those to your colleagues.

 

I'll send that out in an email following the session. Any more questions? We finished a little bit early, but that's always a bonus. Isn't it? No? Okay. Well, thank you very much for your time this afternoon. Have a great remainder of the day. Hopefully, we'll speak on email. Or we'll probably meet again on Zoom or Teams. Thank you.