The role of a Place2Be School Project Manager is a responsive and an active one. Place2Be piloted a mobile data collection portal on tablets and Chromebooks to help staff in these roles collect data on wellbeing support.
The pilot involved the collection of evaluation questionnaires before, during and after counselling, directly and securely into a bespoke case management system (the School Service System, or "SSS"). The use of a mobile portal overcame some of the challenges, including firewalls on desk based PCs, and school Wi-Fi connections. The pilot was deemed a success and the project was rolled out nationally in 2016, leading to improved data collection and positive benefits for those working in a school setting.
The majority of Place2Be's staff rely on remote, mobile working due to their role in and across multiple schools and require a way to record important clinical, evaluation and safeguarding information at the earliest opportunity. As an organisation, Place2Be also values the use of accurate, 'real time' information, and relies on up to date information in their SSS for evaluation processes and reporting to key stakeholders in schools, commissioners and funders.
Key learning from the project
- Importance of conducting a pilot/ needs analysis - Place2Be started the pilot and early roll out in areas they knew had poor connectivity and/ or required updated machines
- Planning - a thorough 2.5 hour training for delegates was planned to ensure they could work independently with the mobile devices and would not depend heavily on the IT support team
- Ongoing support - Place2Be set up a Yammer group for all delegates to troubleshoot any problems and share information and knowledge about mobile working.
Who was involved
Place2Be piloted the mobile working project with 20 members of staff and rolled out nationally to 278 members of staff in a total of 45 sessions. The project training team was headed by the IT Project Manager and training delivery was a joint IT and Research & Evaluation team collaboration. In total there were 4 trainers, 2 per session of 6+ delegates.
Tackling the challenges
On the whole, the project ran fairly smoothly and the training was well attended and received by delegates. The roll out in the summer term 2016 was quite a logistical challenge and trainers were stretched to fulfil the initial interest in the project (83% of all delegates were trained by the end of that term). For the autumn term, demand for training was more measured, and scheduled in half terms which eased the pressure on trainers and also the IT team in ensuring mobile tablets and Chromebooks were available and set up in time.
There was added financial pressure that arose during development of the mobile data collection portal, as Place2Be had to agree a pay per SDQ price to collect this data electronically with the license holders. CORC was able to support Place2Be in this, putting the organisation in touch with the relevant developers of these measures and negotiate an agreement to create and use these measures through the mobile data collection portal.
Outcomes and impact
- Greater data compliance alongside the introduction of SSS and the mobile data collection portal, a result of line managers having visibility of data and outcomes and having one system to record all information
- Completing questionnaires through mobile data collection ensures a quicker, secure and reliable way (less room for error or to miss questions out) to collect evaluation information.
- IT team has had fewer calls regarding connectivity issues and staff can access Place2Be websites otherwise blocked by school Wi-Fi through their tablets
- Positive feedback on data collection and improved accessibility through mobile working.
Place2Be plan to review regularly via feedback from delegates about how they are using their mobile devices and also in terms of monitoring how many evaluation questionnaires are being completed online. In the 2016/17 academic year (roll-out year) approximately 20% of all evaluation questionnaires were completed online – they hope to see this grow year on year.
Taking a further look at the other opportunities mobile working can allow to support Place2Be going entirely paperless in future.
Many thanks to Nikhil Naag for providing us with this case study.