New Executive Director announced for What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care

2 November 2018

Press Release

Founding board appoints Michael Sanders to lead the Centre through its start-up phase to 2020 and beyond

Michael Sanders has been appointed as the new Executive Director of the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care.

As Executive Director, Michael will be developing the Centre’s strategy, building its team, and acting as the Centre’s principal ambassador.

Michael brings a wealth of experience in public service research and design. Currently, Michael is Chief Scientist and Director of Research, Evaluation and Social Capital at the Behavioural Insights Team where his team design randomised controlled trials, which are widely considered to be the ‘gold standard’ in working out what works. The team has conducted evaluations of innovation programmes in Children’s Social Care, and researched the use of machine learning to help support social worker decision making.

Michael is also a Reader in Public Policy at King’s College London, and previously, an Associate Fellow of the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford. He is an affiliate of Harvard Kennedy School, where he completed postdoctoral research and holds an MSc in Economics and Public Policy, and a PhD in Economics, both from the University of Bristol.

Michael, who will be joining the initiative in January, said of his appointment: “I am delighted to be taking up the role of Executive Director at the Centre.

“I am hugely looking forward to working with the sector and I am committed to pursuing the goal of creating truly evidence-informed practice through rigorous and collaborative methods. It’s an exciting time for the Centre and, for me, offers a tremendous opportunity to make a real difference.”

Sir Alan Wood, the Centre’s founding Chair said: “The founding board and I are thrilled to be welcoming Michael as our Executive Director. It was a very competitive process involving interviews with board members and with a panel of young people. We were very impressed with Michael’s experience and ideas for using insights from evidence in system and service design and delivery. We believe he will bring the vision and intellectual energy we need to rapidly progress the Centre in order to deliver real value for the sector.”

Minister for Children and Families Nadhim Zahawi said:

“I want every child, whatever their circumstances, to have the support and opportunities they need to succeed and flourish in life.

“The What Works Centre will play a vital role in our children’s social care reforms, by looking at how to reduce the need for children to be taken into care, improving the lives of vulnerable children and families.

“I’m pleased to welcome Michael to the Centre and I look forward to seeing how his energy and strong leadership will drive our work helping the children who need it most.”

ENDS

Contact
Guy Goodwin, What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care
Tel 07583 146982
[email protected]

Notes to editors
What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care
The What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care seeks better outcomes for children, young people and families by bringing the best available evidence to practitioners and other decision makers across the children's social care sector. Our mission is to foster a culture of evidence-informed practice. We will generate evidence where it is found to be lacking, improve its accessibility and relevance to the practice community, and support practice leaders (e.g. principal social workers, heads of service, assistant directors and directors) to create the conditions for more evidence-informed practice in their organisations.

About Michael Sanders
Michael’s current position is as Chief Scientist and Director of Research, Evaluation and Social Action at the Behavioural Insights Team. His team supports BIT’s policy work through the design and analysis of randomised controlled trials, as well as the use of quasi-experimental methods and data science. The team also leads a series of trials encouraging social action, social cohesion and social mobility working with charities, schools, universities, and government departments.

Michael is a Reader in Public Policy at the Policy Institute at King’s College London, an Associate Fellow of the Blavatnik School of Government, where he teaches Behavioural Science and Policy, and an affiliate of the Harvard Behavioral Insights Group. Since 2016 he teaches field experimental design at the University of Bristol, and on BIT’s Executive Education Programme with Warwick Business School.

He holds an MSc in Economics and Public Policy, and a PhD in Economics, both from the University of Bristol. His PhD research focused on the application of Behavioural Science to Charitable Fundraising. He previously taught Public Policy Analysis at the University of Bristol, and worked as a Teaching Fellow at the University of Bath, and has completed post-doctoral research at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

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