The Department for Education (DfE) is enhancing the way it delivers services, and realising internal operational efficiencies in line with the Government Digital Strategy for online services.
The DfE is redesigning its services to meet the Government’s Digital by Default Service Standard, using the AchieveForms intelligent online forms solution to streamline processes for key services including schools’ applications for academy status, funding and Risk Protection Arrangements. The DfE has also used Firmstep’s Self suite to build a services portal that is live on GOV.UK, giving a user experience fully consistent with the Government’s central information and services site.
Where users were previously required to download, complete and return documents manually with a range of supporting information, applications can now be submitted online in a more efficient and cost-effective way. For schools’ applications for Academy status, the flexibility of AchieveForms has enabled the DfE to eliminate the need for users to manually key in basic information for their school, such as address and contact details. Users simply enter their school’s Unique Reference Number, and the form automatically accesses data from EduBase, the DfE’s register of educational establishments, to populate the relevant form fields.
The form can also automatically link to and retrieve data from other DfE systems, such as performance tables and Ofsted ratings. This speeds up the application process, minimises administrative handling, and ensures all submissions are validated and contain accurate, relevant data for rapid processing.
Laurence Rugg, Digital Solutions Manager for the DfE, said: “AchieveForms is the strategic solution for online forms across the Department; in accordance with the Digital by Default Service Standard, Firmstep’s solutions are enabling us to meet user demand quickly and effectively, whilst driving business efficiencies. It is completely changing the way we offer our services and engage with users. The feedback from users and internal stakeholders has been very good: not only does it meet the user need, it’s driving business efficiencies and really changed the way that our projects leaders work and deal with applications.”
Following the initial success with the forms that are currently live, the DfE plans to rebuild and develop over 100 forms, each of which will benefit from enhanced functionality and automation which was not previously available.
The DfE evaluated solutions from several vendors, and chose Firmstep because of the customisation possible with its solutions, and their ease-of-use which enabled the Department to take the development of its GOV.UK portal and forms in-house.