This time next year, we’ll be millionaires…

I have some gratuitous advice for those about to be in receipt of DfE funds to deliver CPD for them.

I don’t know if you got the funding because you were the best placed to deliver it given your track record or simply because you kept Nick Gibbs shoes shiny, and for the purposes of this piece I don’t care. I do however reserve the right to be snide and derogatory in other pieces if it turns out the procurement process wasn’t entirely kosher (in reality it never really is quite kosher enough, but that’s another post). None of which makes this advice any less valuable. But you can have it for free ‘cos I’m a nice guy.

Most of these nuggets are gleaned from delivering a number DCSF programmes over a period of five years, from tiny little bits of work up to £70m programmes. They are offered free of any strings, or for that matter, any warranty.

Firstly, don’t let it go to your head. It’s happened before and it will happen again. Christ, even I’ve been in receipt of hundreds of thousands of pounds of DCSF funding, so like me you’ve got this funding not just because you’re special, but because you’re there and amenable. Just wait until Angela Rayner is dishing out the cash and see how much you get then.

Secondly, don’t let the criticisms you will get (some justified, some not) worry you too much. If you weren’t delivering this part of government policy someone else would be. Having been in the industry at a time of financial plenty I can vouch for this approach. There was a time when towards the end of the financial year you could wander down Whitehall and they would be literally shovelling money out of the doors at you. The money was going to be given to someone, it might as well be you. Because no-one is perfect.

Thirdly, gather a small group of people around you that you trust and who you know are capable. If one of these people isn’t a top-notch project manager then you will fail. You need a project manager more than you need another educationalist. From here on in it’s about delivery, at scale, and you need professionals to do that. This is the only area where you shouldn’t attempt to save as much money as possible.

Fourthly, spend some of the money on a system to manage what you are doing. If you intend running a time-limited multi-million pound operation on spreadsheets, then you will fail. The other aspect of this is that you want to have something left afterwards, for sustainability. Build something that will last and which will help you in the future.

Fifthly, you now have money. Other people will want that money. Millions. It sounds like enough to go around, doesn’t it? IT WILL DISAPPEAR. As will many of the organisations that take it off of you. Trust no-one (apart from that small group you have gathered around you). Except me of course, because as I’ve already explained, I’m a nice guy.

See the following thread for the sort of thing that can happen:

Sixthly, and I can’t stress this one enough, WEBSITES DON’T COST THAT MUCH! If you don’t heed this piece of advice, you will fail. Because you’ll have no money left.

Seventhly…no, wait, Seventh, nail down the KPIs before you start and stick to them. Let no-one change them without paying you for the change. If you permit unfunded mission creep, you will fail. This is where you have to learn to say no to the DfE. If you have  good project manager let them do it. They seem to enjoy it.

Eighth, always remember that you know more about this stuff that the team in DfE managing it. There are some great people there and they will keep you on your toes re delivery (or at least they used to) but remember who the experts are. Act like it. Deliver the content you know is good, not the messages the DfE wants delivered.

Ninth, get the governance right and the rest will follow. Decide at the outset how the programme will be managed, make sure you know who the decision maker is, document everything and make sure you communicate everything that needs to be communicated to all those it needs to be communicated with. This sounds like an unnecessary overhead. Trust me, it isn’t.

And finally, tenth, decide what you want to be. Do you want to be the multi-million pound delivery organisation? In which case start writing the next tender now. If not, then start planning for the loss of income now. How you manage this contract is informed by what you want to do next. Momentum (no, not that Momentum) is your friend.

In the end, the only real judgement of your success will be the schools and teachers who say the CPD they have received has helped.

I wish you good luck.