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Wanted: Pioneer partners for the What Works Centre

The What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care has recently published a call for partners, seeking local authorities that would like to work with us on the co-development and testing of a range of promising approaches around the generation and sharing of evidence.

This call is a big and exciting step for the centre. One of the key lessons from other What Works initiatives is that simply making research findings available is not enough: we need to develop approaches that build decision-makers’ and practitioners’ capability, motivation and opportunity to make use of evidence. We think the best way to develop such approaches is in close partnership with the sector - working with a small group of pioneer localities, using prototyping methods to quickly and iteratively test ideas, and then adapting our approaches in the light of what we learn.

We are looking for up to half a dozen local authorities - either bidding on their own or in collaboration with local partners – that are interested in working with us on this agenda. Our work with the successful bidders will involve activities around:

  1. Generating new and better evidence of what works, by helping us take forward research programmes in relation to the centre’s initial priorities – currently what works in safely reducing the need for children and young people to enter care, and what works in frontline supervision and decision-making – as well as helping partner authorities create their own high-quality evidence;
  2. Sharing evidence by the most effective means – helping us to develop effective communications media, for example web interfaces and research summaries, as well as more innovative mechanisms such as peer-to-peer networks, digital dashboards and toolkits;
  3. Scaling our findings – helping us to support the implementation of better approaches to the generation, sharing and adoption of evidence in order to realise the maximum benefit for children, young people and families.

We have a number of ideas about what we might do with you under each of these headings; but we want our approach to be collaborative so we’re really keen to hear from authorities with an appetite for exploring this agenda and with their own ideas about what might be done to help make the Centre an effective vehicle for evidence-informed change.

This call is a great opportunity for pioneer authorities who would like to shape the working methods and delivery model of the centre and to participate in an exciting opportunity for individual and organisational learning and development

We are happy to negotiate the scale of your commitment in working with us on this agenda; we want the experience to be beneficial not burdensome. We also have limited finances to part-fund the costs of successful bidders’ work with the centre.

If you’re interested in responding to the call, you can get more detail by reading the invitation and/or by dialling into a webinar we’re holding for potential applicants this Friday 18 May. The application form is available here to download and complete.

The What Works Centre will be successful only if it offers the right balance of support and challenge to do things differently. We want partners who will help us find that balance in ways that allow the centre to be characterised by a spirit of working with local authorities - not one of doing things to the sector. We would welcome applications from prospective pioneers who can help position us for success on these terms.

Greg Wilkinson is Programme Director of the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care

Author

Greg Wilkinson

Managing Director of Traversum and Nesta Associate. He is serving as Programme Director for the development of the new What Works Centre for Children's Social Care.