Projects & Funding

We currently have a number of open opportunities:

Expression of Interest for Virtual School Heads: Widening care-experienced young people’s participation in higher/further education

This research project aims to increase the number of young people leaving care going onto higher and further education. The most recent data from the Department for Education (DfE) shows that just 13% of pupils who were looked after continuously for 12 months or more at 31st March 2015 progressed to higher education (HE) by age 19 by 2018/19 compared to 43% of all other pupils.

What Works for Children’s Social Care (WWCSC), the Centre for Transforming Access and Student Outcomes in Higher Education (TASO), Become, the charity for children in care and young care leavers, and the National Association of Virtual School Heads (NAVSHs) are seeking to increase the number of young care leavers in HE and further education (FE), building on research carried out by the Behavioural Insights Team. This found that sending a personalised “nudge” letter to students from someone they could identify with, was effective at raising the number who apply to, and accept offers from, selective universities.

In this research, letters written by care experienced young people in HE and FE will be sent to young people in year 12 and 13 (or equivalent) who are currently in care. The letters will encourage young people to think about applying to HE/FE, setting out the support available (financial and other) to young care leavers and signposting to Become’s Propel website and free adviceline. We will then monitor whether young people who received the letters were more likely to apply to HE or FE.

Virtual School Heads (VSHs) have a key role to play in the success of this project. Previous research has shown the importance of students receiving a personalised letter. By working with you we will be able to identify students and ensure they receive a letter addressed to them individually. If you are interested in taking part in this project, please fill out the Expression of Interest form below.

We will also be holding a webinar on Monday 5 October 2020 (12pm-1pm), to answer any questions you might have, as well as to explain how the intervention will work, the research behind the project and what is needed from the participating virtual schools and local authorities. Register your interest

If you have any questions about this project please get in touch with Eleanor Briggs, Director of Policy, WWCSC (

Expression of Interest - FE/HE project

  • Please note that we will store and use the information you provide to contact you about your application. Details may be shared with our partners Become and TASO. For more information on how we use and store data, please see our privacy policy.
  • Please confirm you have understood how WWCSC will use and store your data * Required

Open Funding Round 2: Seeking outlines of programmes and interventions that focus on improving outcomes for children and families who have or have had a social worker

What Works for Children’s Social Care is pleased to launch its second open funding round, and is seeking proposals for interventions and programmes that focus on improving outcomes for children and families who have had a social worker.

This funding intends to support the implementation of sector-led innovation in children’s social care settings, and aims to understand the impact of the chosen programmes by means of a robust evaluation.

This will be a two-stage application process: At this stage, we are looking to invite organisations (including children’s social care teams within local authorities, charities, third sector organisations and SMEs) to submit an outline of their proposed programme or intervention.

We are most interested in applications for programmes that show early signs of promise, are scalable, and would be ready for rigorous evaluation. We anticipate appointing projects in January 2020, and would expect these projects to begin delivery by April 2020.

For this round, we are particularly interested in encouraging applications in the following areas:

  • Pre-birth and infants: programmes specifically focusing on assessment, support, and/or specialist services focusing on pre-birth and/or children up to the age of two years old.
  • Programmes supporting children and families from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups.

To submit your idea, please complete the outline application form below by Friday, 16th October, 12pm.

Please see the document below to support your application:

If you have any further questions about this funding call or application, please feel free to email us at We will aim to respond to your queries within 2 working days.

Call for a research partner: Pathways into and through higher education for young people in England who have had a social worker

What Works for Children’s Social Care and the Centre for Transforming Access to Student Outcomes (TASO) are seeking to fund a piece of research looking at the pathways into and through higher education for young people in England who have had a social worker.

The project will explore patterns of higher education access and success of these young people, looking specifically at the difference between sub-groups of interest including: care leavers, young people who have been in care, been classified as a child in need, subject of a child protection plan, and the general population.

Please submit a short expression of interest using the application form below to by 9am on Wednesday, October 14th 2020.

If you have any further questions about this opportunity, please feel free to email us at

Call for LA Partners:
Happier Healthier Professionals – Flexible Working for Social Workers

Introduction to Happier, Healthier Professionals Phase 2 – Flexitime: 

We are seeking local authority partners who are already implementing a flexible working model (‘flexitime’) to participate in an evaluation of the potential effectiveness of these offers on social worker work-life balance and wellbeing. Examples of flexible working could include a nine-day fortnight (where employees are provided with the option to work longer days over the course of two weeks and can take one full day off over that duration); or other innovative examples of compressed or non-regular working hours.

Local authorities who participate in this trial will receive an individual report that includes basic descriptive data analyses for the main outcome of the trial and the potential effectiveness on employee wellbeing within each local authority.

About What Works for Children’s Social Care (WWCSC)

We believe that all children should have the opportunity to live safely and happily, and to fulfil their potential regardless of their background or experiences. We recognise the need for research and evidence to support those tackling this ever evolving challenge, in children’s social care and beyond. We work with others to collate and produce research that can be as useful to practitioners, policy makers and practice leaders as possible.

During 2019-2020, we ran the first phase of the Happier Healthier Professionals programme with social workers (see Annex 2 for details), and we learned more about the specific challenges relative to social worker well-being. In this second phase, we will build on these insights to design new interventions, as well as exploring how these challenges apply to the police and teaching contexts.

Who we’re looking to work with and how to apply

The flexitime research will focus on implementing the intervention with social workers (caseholding practitioners) at local authorities. We are interested in working with local authorities where a flexitime offer of the sort outlined above is already available to staff, or is soon to be rolled-out, and who are interested in evaluating the potential effectiveness of this on their workforce.

If you are interested in working with us on this project please email your completed application form to by no later than 12pm (GMT), Monday 28th September, 2020.

If you have any further questions, please contact us