Schools Service Mapping

12 week discovery

There has been a long-standing problem in education, where the way government interacts with schools is confusing and complex. It often overlaps the collection of services and systems and is incoherent. Interactions have been designed with the department in mind and not users, leaving it struggling to meet the needs of educators across the country.


We put together two specialist multi-disciplinary teams to oversee the discovery work on the project:

Team 1: Service Mapping discovery

Service designer, delivery manager, user researcher, technical architect and 5 subject matter and policy experts from within DfE.

Team 2: Schools Workforce discovery

Service designer, delivery manager, UX research, business analyst, and subject matter and policy experts from within DfE.

With two aligned teams, we worked closely with civil servants at DfE, to ensure collaboration between research, design, and delivery, sharing insights, patterns and developing a shared way of working.

The services are part of a large scape project, whereby the Schools Workforce discovery alone encompassed:

  • 12 policy areas

  • 18 different stakeholders

  • 5 key problems (recruitment, retention, workload, reporting, funding)

  • Data from 20,000 schools

  • 60 different services (14 transactional)

  • 6 different databases

The main goals for discovery included:

  • Mapping DfE's public services terrain.

  • Understanding the core needs and challenges the schools workforce face with current services, and identifying common themes.

  • Identifying digital transformation opportunities to simplify and join up services, based on robust evidence.

    Our teams did this by:

  • Compiling a backlog, personas, research plan, draft hypotheses etc all visible on the team wall for all to see.

  • Digesting huge quantities of prior research and data sources.

  • Running experience mapping workshops, contextual studies and other ethnographic research with a wide range of teachers and other school workforce users.

  • Fortnightly show and tells to stakeholders and interested parties from within DfE and beyond.

  • Collaborating with 'critical friends' from across government (service managers, policy experts, etc), including DWP, GDS, Home Office and DfE, who attended show and tells to give feedback.

  • Identifying key hypotheses with robust evidence.

    The discovery produced outputs of a service map and 'playbook' summarising the current situation and near to medium-term transformation opportunities.