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General overview

Stage of development: Implementation

Policy sector: Education

Date outcomes contract signed: Oct 2018

Start date of service provision: Jan 2019

Anticipated completion date: Oct 2024

Capital raised (minimum): GBP 750k (USD 982.50k)

Max potential outcome payment: GBP 6.19m

Service users: 220 individuals


Big Picture Learning (BPL) is an innovative learning design, working with young people in small advisory groups. It is an alternative provision to Learning Centres and Pupil Referral Units within Doncaster.

Target population

Doncaster children and young people aged 11-16 who are disengaged from education. They work with those showing early signs of crisis and provide them with a stable and supportive learning environment that works with them as individuals.



  • United Kingdom

Service delivery locations

  • Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council

Involved organisations

Configuration of contracting parties:

  • Intermediated contract with payments made through SPV (representatives from investor and provider)

Commissioners/outcome payers

Service Providers


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Outcome metrics

  • Key Stage 3, Metric 1: High Quality Personal Learning Plan established within 4 weeks of student beginning attendance.
  • Key Stage 3, Metric 2: Attendance – students will achieve an 80% attendance outcome against the Attendance target set out in their Personal Learning Plan.
  • Key Stage 3, Metric 3: Progress – Verification of PLP will demonstrate a consistent standard of planning and impact and will support an overall evaluation of ‘good’ progress.
  • Key Stage 3, Metric 4: Reintegration – Review of PLP on completion of programme which will include support to the school and how learning can be continued in a mainstream setting.
  • Key Stage 4, Metric 1: Personal Learning Plan established.
  • Key Stage 4, Metric 2: Attendance.
  • Key Stage 4, Metric 3: Engagement with Workplace.
  • Key Stage 4, Metric 4: Workplace Skills.
  • Key Stage 4, Metric 5: Accredited Qualifications.
  • Key Stage 4, Metric 6: Personal Learning Plan Refresh.


Big Picture Learning started delivering services in January 2019 and will finish in October 2024. These are interim results.

Outcome achievements

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The commissioner's interpretation of this figure:

'The possible changes that we could make would be more flexibility around the outcome payments as the payment by result model has been challenging to maintain due to the resource required to collate, verify and monitor the outcomes. There are many variables when working with this particular cohort and there have been challenges we didn’t envisage. For example, the metric of attendance is recorded against specific codes- these codes are nationally used for mainstream school and do not necessarily meet the requirements of this particular cohort. This has in some cases, made it difficult to record a young person’s individual circumstances. If the contract was more flexible this would enable more young people to achieve the full range of metrics that are available.

We would pick similar metrics but with more flexibility on how this can be achieved. We would also use a more comprehensive data system to record the metrics and outcomes. Ideally, we would not use the payment by results method as this has been resource intensive and has at times, been difficult to measure the outcomes for young people against these metrics due to the number of variables linked to individual circumstances. It would be ideal to use the same types of metrics we have used this time, but change this to be guidelines, so there is a more overall picture of the young person and a review of their time within the placement, rather than on specific points only.'

Note: 'Backdated claims can distort the overall data as the figures may appear less than they actually are until those claims have been verified at a later date. Delays also occur from the point of submission of data to the point of verification - occasionally data is received later than anticipated and is therefore verified later than planned which leads to a delay in reporting/verification.'

Outcome payments

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The commissioner's interpretation of this figure:

'There have been a number of contract variations in order to reflect the changes to the delivery model as the programme evolved. The original Big Picture Doncaster provision changed from an Ofsted registered school to an alternative education provision resulting in subsequent amendments to the metrics in order to clearly redefine the outcomes for this type of education delivery.'

Furthermore, 'during the COVID 19 pandemic there were lower referral rates due to the closure of schools, isolation rules and a move to online learning in mainstream schooling. This impacted on the number of payment claims that could be made. To offset this and ensure that the provision could continue to deliver a blended learning model and be prepared for students to return to on-site learning, we agreed a temporary fixed payment model with the Investor and Life Chances Fund.

This Social Impact Bond contract has provided us with the opportunity to consider how we can work more innovatively and creatively in the future to develop similar programmes that will improve life chances for children and young people... The contract could have been more effectively managed had we chosen to operate a slightly different payment model, with part of the funding being paid through a service fee and the remainder paid through a payment by results incentive model.

As we enter the final stages of this contract, we are planning for the sustainability of the model as we recognise that it has been successful and has the potential to support a greater number of young people to achieve positive outcomes.'

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