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Strategic Outline Programme (SOP)

Strategic Outline Programme (SOP)

All delivery partners need to submit a Strategic Outline Programme (SOP) for the 21st Century Schools and Education Capital Programme for each wave of funding.

This proposal needs to set out the key projects, funding streams and critical delivery path for the overarching investment programme. Where education transformation and/or school modernisation are planned, these can form the basis for the submission.  However, it is important to ensure that information is consistent with criteria set out in the ‘Better Business Cases – using the Five Case Model’ (also known as the ‘HM Treasury Green Book’), which underpins our programme.

The SOP serves four main purposes so that the delivery partner can:

  • demonstrate that it has developed a coherent strategic overview of the future of its education provision which considers all sectors and groups of learners, such as Welsh medium, additional learning needs, Voluntary Aided (VA), primary, secondary and foundation schools, 14-19 learning pathways and colleges
  • develop the overview through discussion with a wide range of stakeholders, in accordance with the obligation to involve all appropriate bodies in their proposals and so deliver a consensus approach where possible
  • demonstrate changes that will be required, and provide evidence of the need for, and nature of, consequent investment over a ten year period
  • develop a forward programme of investment based on this overview, identifying initial educational investment group projects. This should provide clarity on the process of option appraisal behind the proposed programme and projects. It should also evidence that delivery to a timescale is achievable
  • identify, if appropriate, subsequent investment projects.

Following approval of the SOP, delivery partners will be required to submit individual Business Justification or Full Business Cases (depending on overall cost). This family of Business Cases will ensure a commonality of objectives throughout the programme from the national to the most local level.

Current Status

All delivery partners have submitted their initial proposals for the 21st Century Schools and Education Programme Band B funding investment which begins in 2019.  Initial proposals can be subject to change as plans develop, and so any changes to the original SOP will need to be documented in a revision.  A template for this can be found on our business case guidance page.

How will SOPs be assessed?

In developing SOPs, delivery partners need to ensure that these are configured in a way that will gain approval first time round. The Programme team will welcome requests to discuss draft documents prior to submission.

The assessment of submissions will follow a process which is illustrated in Diagram B in the ‘Process for Assessment of SOP Submission’ download below.  Submissions should address all key issues identified in the yellow boxes.  Assessments will begin with the overview and if all key issues are addressed will go on to be considered for prioritisation of their project proposals.

The SOP template provides a structure for each delivery partner to address the range of issues being assessed. Issues which have not been addressed or have been done so in an unsatisfactory way, will need to be developed further before proposed projects are considered. In some cases this might mean that those projects will not be prioritised for funding. This approach reflects the importance attached to having a good overall strategy for future investment before embarking on its implementation.

Submissions that successfully address the strategic issues will then be evaluated in respect of the proposed initial investment project for a group of schools. The quality of option appraisal carried out by the authority will be the first key factor in this evaluation.  Good evidence that the group of schools chosen as priority projects have been selected from other carefully considered options needs to be provided.