The Dudley Grid for Learning (DGfL) is a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) partnership which has provided Dudley schools with a fully managed ICT service since 1999. It encompasses network infrastructure, hardware, educational and curriculum software titles, schools management information systems (MIS), helpdesk, training, network and technical support. The Council's private sector partner is RM Education based in Abingdon, Oxfordshire.
It is highly successful with Dudley now a nationaly recognised reference site for outsourced service contracts for educational ICT.
Following an extensive OJEU procurement exercise a new 10 year contract with RM began on 1st February 2011 with 108 Dudley schools having signed a new participation agreement with the Authority.
Recent years have seen the introduction of the DGfL portal, a key communication tool, enabling teachers, pupils and parents to share information securely on-line. This has provided all Dudley pupils with access to secure on-line learning space and an e-portfolio and can give parents web access to up to date and relevant information about their child’s achievement, attendance behaviour and progress.
The last thirteen years have seen numerous innovative and successful ICT Learning projects, working with many schools and sharing much good practice. These have included ICE (Internet Channel for Education) and the integration of personal learning devices such as netbooks and tablets.
Improving the learning outcomes for young people lies at the heart of the DGfL contract with RM. Schools have access to a wide range of support, training and CPD to maximise the impact of their ICT provision and meet the needs of a fast changing curriculum.
E-safety is also a top priority for DGfL, delivered through the provision of secure and safe systems supported by a range of appropriate policies and training designed to promote high levels of awareness of on-line safety for both staff and young people.
Dudley has a number of ICTMark/360 e-safe assessors and CEOP (Child Exploitation On-line Protection Centre) trained Ambassadors. These work closely with the Dudley Safeguarding Children Board, to ensure pupils and staff are e-safe. Compliance with legislation on Data security is delivered through a combination of guidance in good practice and secure systems backed up by comprehensive Data Processor Agreements.
Over the last 13 years schools themselves have played a central role in the development of the DGfL contract and the service. Key decisions are guided by the DGfL Steering Board with Primary, Secondary and Special Headteacher representatives meeting regularly with members of the DGfL Client Team, senior Local Authority officers and senior managers from RM. Other key stakeholder groups include ICT Co-ordinators, technicians, school secretaries and business managers. There is an excellent working partnership with Dudley’s Corporate ICT Services who, since 1st February 2012, manage the DGfL Wide Area Network and connections to the internet.
Working in partnership is key to the success of the DGfL, forging strong links with the private sector, other divisions within Children’s Services, the wider Council and beyond. ICT has a key role in delivering Dudley Council's Vision 2025, helping us ensure that our young people are well prepared to be 21st century citizens.