Wokingham District Council has developed an online application to help its schools comply with education inspection agency Ofsted's annual self-evaluation exercise for schools.
The functionality of the application was specified by the council and the development work was completed by Wokingham's outsourcing supplier Digica.
The council said, "One of the objectives of the development was to deliver highly polished reports and graphical outputs for inclusion in the Ofsted self-evaluation form. This would reduce the amount of school administration required in the creation of the final reports."
A team from the council produced a storyboard showing the processes they wanted to see in the finished application. Digica came back with a fixed cost to develop an application with the functionality requested by the council.
The outsourcing company employed a senior technical designer based in the UK and a development team in Cape Town in South Africa to build the application, known as Vision.
The council said, "Vision uses positive language throughout the system. Instead of focusing on what a school does not do, we have carefully considered the language of the criteria statements so that a school can identify its practice against a positive statement.
"The criteria statements are all carefully aligned to the Ofsted framework introduced in September 2005."
The application supports remote access for both teachers and school administration staff, and multiple users can work on a single form at the same time. Users access the application with two identifiers - one for the school and one for the individual - and a password.
The council said schools expect the software to improve the quality of their submissions to Ofsted because the online application forces them to add evidence to the claims that they make about the quality of teaching.
Schools can also complete self evaluations for individual departments and key stages, as well as for the whole school. Wokingham District Council will use the application to focus on problem departments and age groups within the district.
Wokingham District Council is now planning to sell the Vision application to other councils through Digica.
This was first published in April 2007