One of the clear lessons from the past – and from other What Works Centres – is that publishing evidence is not enough. The biggest challenge is making sure that evidence is actually used to the best benefit of the children, young people and families we ultimately serve.
That’s why the Centre is co-creating its research and co-designing its products and services with the sector. I am delighted that this work is now underway with over 20 local authorities and children’s trusts across the country.
Vlog from Sir Alan Wood about the partnerships
Our approach is simple. We will focus our research on the issues where access to reliable evidence can have the greatest impact and where there are gaps in our knowledge. And we will explore promising ways to support the use of evidence in practice before we fully develop the Centre’s products and services.
We will do this in short, intense waves, so that we learn rapidly and if necessary, change our approach before we are fully committed to developing a particular product, or researching a particularly intervention.
For example, we are working with Wigan to co-design and test a self-evaluation tool; with Birmingham Children’s Trust to research effective ways of supporting social workers; and with Walsall to co-design and test a diagnostic tool to identify how their current use of evidence and areas for improvement.
To be effective, the Centre needs to remain close to the ground. These partnerships will help and support local leaders and practitioners to ensure that we most effectively meet the needs of children and families. They are not pilot sites. They are partners who will explore, co-design and test promising ideas rapidly with us. That includes ideas for our future products and services to help expand the use of evidence such as online evidence, peer-to-peer networking, and self-evaluation toolkits. And it includes developing insights into the kinds of interventions already being used, and exploring new ideas that could be tested and evaluated in more depth.
This first wave of partnerships run through to December 2018 but we will be sharing our insights from this work as we progress.
Find out more about how we are co-designing with partners.
And discuss our approach on Twitter @WhatWorksCSC