Ealing Free School Meals Management and Eligibility IT System
Main contract details
The current Free School Meals Management and Eligibility IT System contract expires on 31st of March 2024. The approximate value for this contract is £20,000 to £25,000 per annum. The proposed duration of the contract would be for up to five (5) years with one potential two (2) year extension. The proposed total value would be approximately £100,000 - £125,000 if all extensions used.
Section 512 of the Education Act 1996, as amended, places a duty on maintained schools, academies and free schools to provide free school meals to disadvantaged pupils of all ages that meet the criteria.
The London Borough of Ealing maintained school, academies and free schools have a statutory obligation to provide free school meals to disadvantaged pupils. To assist with meeting this duty, the Council provides a Free School Meals (FSM) Management and Eligibility IT System and Pupil Support Team (PST), to provide a supported service to 91 maintained schools, academies, and free schools to enable them to meet their statutory duties to provide free school meals to disadvantaged pupils (currently 14,000 children across Ealing schools)
The existing system consists of an external online application form, an internal officer portal that has direct access to the DfE benefits data portal and a school facing portal. In addition to a wide range of features, the IT system helps to minimise the workload for schools and support them to maximise the number of children identified, which provides both vital support to families and maximises the national funding formula and Pupil Premium funding received by the school.
The IT System also enables the Council to identify vulnerable households eligible for distribution of Household Support Vouchers (currently funded by the DWPs Household Support Fund) to cover the cost of meals during the school holidays.
Our goal is to implement an efficient and user-friendly solution that streamlines the application, management of Free School Meals, enhances data accuracy, and improves the overall experience for students, parents, and school staff.
Below are the key requirements we seek in the IT system:
1. Eligibility Verification:
• The system should have a robust mechanism for verifying and validating the eligibility of students for Free School Meals based on established criteria.
• It should allow for easy integration with relevant databases, such as DfE eligibility checking system (ECS), to facilitate automated eligibility checks.
2. Application Management:
• The system should enable an online application process for parents or guardians to apply for Free School Meals on behalf of their children.
• It should include an intuitive interface that guides applicants through the process, capturing necessary information whilst minimising data entry errors.
• The system should be capable of handling bulk volumes of applications and concurrent user access.
• The system should enable schools to make applications on behalf of families, through individual applications and bulk eligibility checking uploads.
3. Real-Time Reporting:
• The system should generate comprehensive and up-to-date reports on Free School Meals eligibility, including enrolment statistics, trends, and demographic analysis and data quality management
• Customisable reporting options and the ability to export data in various formats, such as Excel or PDF, for further analysis or sharing with stakeholders.
5. Communication and Notifications:
• The system should have robust communication features to send notifications and reminders to parents or guardians and between the Council and schools regarding upcoming deadlines, changes in eligibility or attendance status, or other important updates.
• It should offer multi-channel communication options, such as email or SMS, to ensure effective and timely information dissemination.
6. Integration and Data Security:
• The system should have the capability to integrate with existing Council systems, student databases, and finance systems to facilitate data exchange and streamline processes.
• It should adhere to industry best practices for data security, encryption, and comply with relevant data protection regulations to safeguard sensitive information (e.g. GDPR)
• Compatibility with commonly used systems, web browsers and mobile devices.
• Regular automated backups of data to prevent data loss.
• Disaster recovery mechanisms to ensure system availability and data integrity.
• Comprehensive technical support available.
7. User-Friendly Interface:
• The system should feature an intuitive and user-friendly interface that is accessible to Council officers, school staff and parents/guardians with varying levels of technical expertise.
• It should provide clear navigation, well-organised functions, and contextual help features to ensure ease of use and minimise training requirements.
This market research questionnaire is voluntary and will be used for market research purposes only. It does not from part of any tender or contract. Your response will be confidential and providers are in no way obliged to complete it, or to answer every question within it. However we hope providers will complete is as it will assist us greatly in informing our future strategy to commission and procure a Free School Meal Management and Eligibility IT system.
Please submit your response to the questionnaire by 5.00pm on 13th July 2023 via Microsoft Forms link https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=Q4w6AYeCi0yHixMeMM258yr18p-24EtEgTV6UR8rX4lUNFExSkcyT01MNlUyWURXSllEQjhRRUxBUS4u
Individual meetings are likely to be held with commissioners on the 19th and 20th July 2023. Please hold dates in your diary if you wish to attend. Please indicate in MS Forms questionnaire your preference regarding day and time on 19th/20th July
Expression of interest window
From 29/06/2023 14:30 to 18/10/2023 11:00