Issue details

Future delivery of the Education and Skills Service

In April 2016 Barnet entered into a new seven-year strategic partnership with Mott MacDonald, trading as Cambridge Education, to provide all of the council’s education services. The partnership was established in consultation with Barnet schools following a detailed options appraisal and procurement process. The aim of establishing the partnership was to:

·       Maintain Barnet’s excellent education offer

·       Maintain an excellent relationship between the council and schools

·       Achieve the budget savings target for the service up to 2020.


The contract is due to expire on 31st March 2023 with an option to extend for any period up to a maximum of three years, potentially extending the contract up to the end of March 2026.


The performance against all three of the stated objectives for the partnership has been strong and the benefits that were expected from the partnership have been realised. Educational progress and achievement have improved consistently year on year.  96.8% of Barnet schools are good or outstanding and Barnet is now in the top 10% for almost all measures and the top 5% for many of the measures. The £1.885m budget savings target for the service up to 2020 has been achieved and the excellent relationship with schools has been at least maintained. 


The unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic has had significant impacts on the contract delivery model and Mott MacDonald notified a Force Majeure event under the contract in April, noting the potential effect of the event (covid19) on the performance of the obligations under the contract with the council. Under this Force Majeure event the council is providing temporary financial support to mitigate against these impacts, in accordance with Cabinet Office guidance.


As a result of the complexities and consequences of the COVID-19 crisis there would have needed to be substantial revisions to the way in which Mott MacDonald delivered the Education and Skills contract. This could have included changes to the terms and conditions of staff and salary arrangements and other commercially confidential conditions, which would have been unacceptable to the council and would have undermined the delivery of the service. 


In the light of this, the council and Mott MacDonald agreed that the termination of the Education and Skills contract may be the most appropriate course of action. The council and Mott MacDonald entered into negotiations regarding the future of the contract, with a view to agreeing a controlled exit by mutual consent.  This meant that the council needed to consider urgently the best way of delivering the Education and Skills service in the future in order to protect the council, its relationship with schools and services for children and young people.


A confidential report was submitted to the council’s Policy and Resources Committee on 17th June 2020, setting out the current situation and giving authority to the Executive Director for Children and Young People to make a decision, in consultation with the Commercial Director and Chairman of the Children, Education and Safeguarding Committee, to continue negotiations with Mott MacDonald and to terminate the contract if satisfactory terms could be reached. Authority was also given to the Executive Director for Children and Young People to undertake consultation with schools and other key stakeholders on two options, transferring the service in house or into a Local Authority Controlled Company, and on the future arrangements for the current contract and, if this decision involved terminating the current contract earlier, considering what options are appropriate for future delivery of the services.


Heads of Terms for the termination of the contract with Mott MacDonald have now been agreed and so this report sets out the decision to terminate the contract. A consultation with schools and the Steering Group of the Parent Carer Forum ran from 19th June to 3rd July and the results from this are set out within the report. An Equality Impact Assessment has also been completed and is appended to the report. These have been considered alongside the further analysis of the options that has been undertaken and the report sets out the decision to implement option 2, which is to transfer all of the Education and Skills services and staff into a Local Authority Controlled Company and to novate the current contract with Mott MacDonald


Decision type: Key

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Wards affected: (All Wards);

Notice of proposed decision first published: 06/07/2020

Decision due: 6 Aug 2020 by Executive Director of Children and Young People

Lead member: Councillor David Longstaff, The Deputy Leader