ESF Information memo 24/20 - letter to projects

ESF Information Memo 24/20 issued on 10 July 2020.

Dear Project Promoter,

Thank you all for attending our recent stakeholder meetings via Zoom. Hopefully you found it as informative and helpful as we did. I understand that these are unique and complex times and I was delighted to witness the level of commitment all projects had both to delivering for their participants and to delivering against the targets agreed in the :etter of Offer (LoO).

Revised Year 3 targets

As discussed year 3 targets for all output indicators will be reduced by 25 per cent. You will shortly receive a profile template which should be completed and returned to the performance management team by 17 August. Your annual profile should be as realistic as possible particularly for quarter 2 to allow us to gain an overall picture of individual progress during this period to inform future decision making. Unit cost monitoring has been suspended for Year 3 quarter 1 and this suspension will be kept under constant review.

Electronic methods of delivery 

I am interested to hear how projects have been interacting successfully via Zoom and other electronic means during this period. A number of the projects have shared with us tips and ideas on how this can be achieved and improved on. The performance team will share these with all projects to help improve delivery in this way. We have developed a template which you should complete and return to us setting out your COVID 19 delivery plans. 

ESF publicity

Getting the message out that ESF projects are open for business is vital during COVID 19. The performance team have been in contact with our press office who are committed to using the department’s social media platforms to promote this message. Projects should share good news stories particularly around their ability to deliver within the confines of the COVID 19 restrictions. We will ensure that these are presented on the department’s social media platforms. The performance team will provide details of the various #hashtags and social media tags which projects should use to further their message.

Bridge to Employment and Buy Social NI

You may recall that I invited a representative from the Department’s Bridge to employment programme to discuss the benefits of this to projects at the last stakeholder events. As projects begin on their path to recovery it’s a programme that I would recommend you explore with your participants.  

  • Bridge to Employment (now closed)

Also as discussed at the Zoom meeting Buy Social is a way to maximise the benefits from public procurement in terms of well – being, social cohesion and inclusion, equal opportunities and sustainable development. Again I feel exploring the potential of this may assist projects in their recovery.

Mental Health awareness

I would ask all projects to be aware of the stresses and strains of the government restrictions on the mental health of both staff and participants particularly the most vulnerable of these. Projects should consider appointing a Mental Health champion with responsibility for adapting strategies to monitor and deal with mental health issues. Again projects should share any best practice they have developed and the performance team will share these and any departmental advice with projects.

Recovery Plans

I am mindful of the fact that most projects are currently looking towards the development of recovery plans and I would ask you to share with us any information or best practice you may have which may assist other projects. The oversight and advisory committee within the department is currently developing guidance to assist schools and colleges and work based learning centres including ESF projects in getting up and running again. We will share this guidance when it is available to us. The Health and Safety executive have developed a risk assessment which may be useful in assisting projects assess the current health risks associated with face to face contact and this may assist. The performance team will collate a pack of information for the use of project in preparing their recovery plan.

Quarterly Improvement Plans (QIP)

During a recent meeting I had with Education Training Inspectorate (ETI) and the Quality Improvement Team (QIT) it was agreed that in these difficult times that Quality Improvement Plans (QIP) will not need to be submitted in August. Both ETI and the QIP team stated that they hope to be in touch in late August/September to provide a supporting role to projects in completing their recovery plans.

Future meetings

I intend to reconvene these meeting again at the end of August. At that stage I will discuss again the targets to ascertain how projects are progressing against revised targets. At these meetings we will again discuss your recovery plan. At these meetings I hope that someone from the FE department will attend and share some of their experience in getting schools, colleges and other work place learning facilities up and running. Following these meetings we will ask projects to complete a recovery plan.

Kind regards and stay safe.


Annie McGowan
Head of ESF Project Delivery Branch

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