In July 2007 the South Yorkshire e-Learning programme approved investment in a series of one year projects designed to test and support use of technology to address social and educational exclusion and to identify ‘what works’ and support the adoption of this effective practice. By e-inclusion, we mean the use of appropriate digital technology to provide access to personalised learning for those isolated from the mainstream educational system. It was recognised that inclusion, even without the ‘e’, is a complex agenda with significant variations reflecting local partnerships and specialist learner groupings such as Looked After Children, hospital and home services and Pupil Referral Units. Effective projects would therefore need to be localised and specialised. However, it was clear that similar challenges of practice, effectiveness, empowerment and sustainability are experienced across the range of inclusion and re-engagement services, largely irrespective of partnership or client group. Furthermore the practitioners are often professionally isolated on account of their specialisms and the nature of their mission. They often lack the critical mass to share practice, to solve systemic problems and to access value added funding. The South Yorkshire e-inclusion projects were therefore explicitly structured to take both the specialism and common ground in to account. Each of the four local authorities was invited to plan and manage its own localised project or projects. These projects were then brought together within a formalised model for collaboration and evaluation. It was this wrap-around function, a model of collaborative self-help, which sparked the journey described here
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