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Key information for Local Authorities

A Local Authority’s decision-making process when considering licensing CASPA for use by its schools can be lengthy and involve detailed considerations of technical and operational matters. SGA Systems Ltd has worked with many Local Authorities as they have navigated the purchasing process, and the following covers many of the key queries that are usually raised.

What is CASPA and why do we need it?

Whilst adoption of CASPA is often driven by special schools, who can see the benefits of using CASPA and how it can fulfil important needs within the school, what CASPA is and why it is required is sometimes less obvious for those Local Authority staff who may have less day-to-day involvement with the specific requirements of special schools and children with Special Educational Needs. The Key features section of this website aims to answer questions as to what CASPA is and why schools need it.

What do we need to consider prior to implementation of CASPA?

Questions from Local Authorities regarding the practicalities of implementing CASPA for their schools tend to fall into a number of broad categories, each of which is dealt with in detail below. These are:

  • Installation and roll-out of CASPA
  • Training of users and LA staff
  • Support for CASPA
  • Local Authority work-load in implementing CASPA

Installation and roll-out of CASPA

What timescale should we expect from ordering to schools and the LA using CASPA? We can usually configure and deliver CASPA within about 5 days from receiving an order along with the key information required to configure CASPA for an authority. CASPA is delivered with guidance to allow users to get up and running with CASPA very quickly, supported by CASPA’s extensive context-sensitive Help system. From delivery of CASPA to a Local Authority, we have seen CASPA installed in all special schools, data returns created in CASPA, data exported to the Local Authority module, and anonymised data submitted for analysis, all within a four week period.

How will we install CASPA? CASPA is supplied as a downloadable self-extracting installer; for more information see the Technical information section of the CASPA website; CASPA installs as a ‘zero-configuration’ product, with no .INI files or registry settings and has no dependencies on external run-time libraries. Installation of CASPA takes only a few minutes.

How should I roll CASPA out? The number of schools with pupils with SEN in your local authority will affect this decision. Many local authorities start just their special schools, prior to rolling CASPA out to mainstreams with Special Units or Resourced Provision, or to all mainstream schools with pupils with defined special educational needs.

Training of users and LA staff

How do we train users of CASPA? SGA Systems can provide training in the use of CASPA. We can either ‘train the trainer’, enabling the authority to build up an expertise, or we can train school staff directly, often in groups of schools. Training costs are based simply on a charge for the trainer’s time, regardless of the number of trainees; group training sessions therefore offer a very cost-effective solution. For details of training costs, please contact us.

When do we train our schools? Following installation, most schools find the guidance that is supplied with CASPA is sufficient to allow them to populate CASPA with basic pupil data and both current and historic assessment results and targets. Training is often most valuable at the point that schools wish to start exploring the analysis and reporting features in CASPA, where we can focus on how schools can get the most out of CASPA. Where schools have already entered data, they can easily bring this data to the training, meaning that as they work through the reporting and analysis in CASPA, they are exploring CASPA based on results for their own school.

How do we train Local Authority staff? SGA Systems can also provide training to Local Authority staff; for LA staff such as advisers and SIPS, the topics covered in training for schools will be largely applicable; training can also be provided for staff who will receive data from schools and those who may provide operational support to schools.

Support for CASPA

 Who will provide technical support? As part of the conditions of a Local Authority licence for CASPA, we require that the Local Authority provide front-line support to users of CASPA so that there is one point of contact between the LA and ourselves.

Support issues fall into two relatively distinct categories; firstly, issues relating to installation and transfer of data to and from the school MIS, and secondly, issues relating to the operation of CASPA and
how schools can get greatest benefit from it. Issues of the first type tend to be related to the IT infrastructure within schools and network permissions for users, which clearly we are not best placed to advise on or ask schools to act on, and issues of the second type can often be answered within the LA as experience with CASPA is built up, with this role often being handled within the School Improvement and Advisory service. We provide an exemplary standard of second-line support for those issues which cannot be answered within the LA, and are working to extend the resources available to assist users in getting the most from CASPA. As noted, above, we can also provide training, on request.

CASPA itself has been designed to be as simple and robust as possible and is exhaustively tested before release as we have every incentive to ensure that support requirements are minimised.  CASPA is supplied via a download; once your order is processed, you receive an email with all of the information needed to download the CASPA installer.  CASPA installs as a ‘zero-configuration’ product, with no .INI files or registry settings and has no dependencies on external run-time libraries. Should there be a need to update CASPA to apply either fixes or enhancements, this can be done on-line via the ‘Check for updates’ functionality built into CASPA. For more detailed technical information on CASPA, please click here.

In practice, CASPA has proven to be very robust and reliable, with very limited requirements for support. A number of Local Authorities using CASPA have agreed to share their experiences in the deployment and support of CASPA, and contact details can be provided on request.

Who will advise schools on gaining the greatest benefit from CASPA? In the initial stages of the use of CASPA, we can provide training to assist users in getting the most from CASPA; however, as experience with CASPA is built up, this role is often handled within the Local Authority by school improvement and advisory staff.

Local Authority workload in implementing CASPA

As a minimum, LA staff will need to use the Local Authority module of CASPA to aggregate data returns from schools and to export anonymised data for submission to SGA Systems for analysis. Importing data from schools takes probably less than one minute per school, and the exporting of anonymised data usually takes no more than a couple of minutes.

Both of the tasks noted above are usually carried out once a year, toward the end of the summer term. For further information on the interaction of the school and Local Authority modules of CASPA and the data flows involved with CASPA, please click here.