Co-designing with partners

We are working with local partners to co-design and test a range of promising approaches to generating and sharing evidence.

Publishing research evidence is important – but it is not sufficient to bring about lasting improvements in children’s social care.

We are acting on learning from other what works-style initiatives and working closely with leaders and practitioners in the children’s social care system to cultivate the conditions for more evidence-informed practice.

We are engaging partners across the sector to make a success of this initiative. In particular we are working with a number of local authority and trust partners to co-design and test promising tools and services that aim to:

We are also working with local authorities to generate evidence by identify promising interventions for detailed evaluation.

Local partners Wave 1 - July – December 2018

Following a strong response to the formal application process, we are working with 21 local authorities and trusts during this first wave of activity to December 2018.

The local partners will work with us to:

Details about the partnerships are outlined below. You can also download a table which summarises our work with this first wave of partners: Local partners - Summary

Some of these wave one partners will be working with the Centre in more than one capacity. For example, they may work on the development of evidence, as well as on the co-design of products and services, or act as a reference partner providing advice and support to others.

Co-design and test tools and services

We are working with ten local authorities to develop and test effective tools and services that the Centre may deliver. We are taking an exploratory approach. So if the work indicates that our initial proposals are promising we will explore them further. If they do not, we will adapt our proposals and redirect our focus. We want to learn quickly, and move on.

We will share learning from the partners through this website, our e-newsletter and our twitter account @WhatWorksCSC.

This work is being supported by a further seven local authorities and trusts (known as reference partners) who will provide insights and advice based on their experience during this first wave to December 2018.

Digital tools for more effective use of data

Wave 1 Partner
Bracknell Forest Borough Council

What we want to achieve
We want to support local authorities to: quickly and easily find insights from their own data and from comparing their data to that of other local authorities; and enable them to easily share and discuss their insights with colleagues in other local authorities.

What LA partners will do
The partner will help us to understand how they currently access and use data to support decision making and how this could be improved. They will test tools to support faster analysis – including comparisons across local authorities, and how to integrate analysis into decision making.

The partners will be supported by a reference group of the following authorities who will provide insights and advice based on their experience of using digital tools to support better use of evidence:

"The transformation of our children's services is focused on achieving the best possible outcomes for children and families in Bracknell Forest and we are delighted that our approach has led us to being chosen as a wave one partner of the What Works Centre. We are looking forward to working in partnership with the centre to explore how data analysis can be used to help authorities make important decisions which affect the lives of children and young people across the country."
Nikki Edwards, Director of Children, Young People and Learning, Bracknell Forest Council

“We’re excited to be working with national colleagues to support the What Works Centre programme as a wave one partner. We’re keen to develop practice in the Bradford District that is based on evidence and which builds on the work we already do within our Born in Bradford, Better Start Bradford, Opportunity Area and Education Research Centre programmes. All of these initiatives help us to focus our practice on using evidence to deliver what works for children and families.”
Cllr Adrian Farley, Portfolio Holder for Children and Families, City of Bradford Metropolitan Borough Council

"Surrey children’s services are embarking on a transformational journey of rapid improvement. We are delighted and excited to be a wave one partner of the new What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care. This is part of a new approach in Surrey, which is outward looking with our improvement journey driven by research, evaluation and best practice."
Dave Hill, Executive Director Children, Families and Learning, Surrey County Council

Self-evaluation toolkit

Wave 1 Partners

What we want to achieve
We want to enable local authorities to undertake their own evaluations of projects, by developing a self-evaluation tool.

What partners will do
The partner will work with us to design what the tool will look like and how it could be used in a local authority setting. The tool will be developed through a series of workshops and interviews, and will draw on examples of what has worked in other contexts.

“We’re delighted that our approach to transforming children’s services through The Deal has been recognised and we’ve been invited to become a first wave partner to the Centre. We’re looking forward to collaborating with partners to improve services and ultimately make a real difference to the lives of children and young people.”
Cllr Jenny Bullen, cabinet member for children and young people’s services, Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council

Evidence store

Wave 1 Partners

What we want to achieve
We want to develop an online evidence store that makes research about what works in children’s social care accessible.

What partners will do
Partners will work with us to design the evidence store, including helping us to understand the language they use, what information is most important to them and how they would use the evidence store. We will hold a series of interviews and design workshop to design the store, and carry out usability testing when it is built.

Peer-to-peer networking

Wave 1 Partner

What we want to achieve
We want to enable social workers to access a wider network of quality assured advice from a wide range of peers, supported by a digital platform.

What partners will do
Partners will work with us to support design of a digital peer-to-peer platform. For example by helping us to understand what will motivate and enable social workers to seek advice from colleagues, and the technical feasibility of different options.

We will also test how to encourage the uptake and use of the network, gathering insight and feedback on what worked and how it can be improved

Evidence masterclass

Wave 1 Partners

What we want to achieve
We want to increase evidence and research literacy among practice leaders and other decision-makers so they know how to assess and use evidence and research to inform decisions.

What partners will do
We will work with partners to design the masterclass, including suggesting content and format for masterclasses. We will trial the masterclasses with staff within the partners, who will feed back on whether the sessions are likely to result in behaviour change.

“We are really excited in Bristol to have been selected as a wave one partner working with the new What Works Centre. Partnering with the What Works Centre to promote evidence-informed practice and to better understand how to safely reduce the need for children to come into care will really help us to ensure that we are doing the best for the children and young people in our city.”
Jacqui Jensen, Executive Director, Adults, Children and Education, Bristol City Council

Diagnostic tool to assess an organisation’s use of evidence

Wave 1 Partners

What we want to achieve
We want local authorities to be able to assess how well they are using evidence to inform practice and manage their operations, and how they can get better at doing this, by designing and testing a diagnostic tool.

What partners will do
We will work with partners to design and test a diagnostic tool to identify strengths and weakness in their current use of evidence, and areas for improvement.

The partners will be supported by a reference group of the following organisations that will provide insights and advice based on their experience of using evidence in decision making:

“We feel proud in Walsall to have been chosen by the What Works Centre to develop a pioneering partnership in becoming an Evidence Informed Organisation, during this first wave of the Centre's activity. The timing of this partnership could not have been more ideal as we are in the starting blocks of launching our ‘Right for Children’ transformation programme. Walsall Council sees this as a timely and exciting opportunity to work in partnership to both support and accelerate our transformation journey and enable us to become an evidence informed local authority.”
Cllr Tim Wilson, Portfolio Holder for Children’s and Health and Wellbeing, Metropolitan Borough of Walsall

“We are really pleased at Doncaster Children’s Services Trust to be working as a first wave partner with the What Works Centre, helping to bring together knowledge from across the country of what really works to improve social work practice. From our own journey from inadequate to good, we have benefited from using evidence based research to improve our standard of practice and the service we deliver to the most vulnerable children and young people here in Doncaster and we hope to support others to do the same.”
Pauline Turner, Director of Performance and Improvement, Doncaster Children’s Services Trust

Generate new evidence

The Centre’s Research Partner (led by CASCADE at Cardiff University) is working with six local authorities and trusts to help develop work on our initial research themes.

The aims are to develop insights into the kinds of interventions already being used to improve outcomes for children, families and staff, and to explore new ideas that could be tested.

As well as working with local authority staff, we will meet with children and young people, parents and adults with care experience to ensure their views and expertise remain central to the work. We will undertake interviews, focus groups, observations of practice and other activities. By the Autumn, we will have devised in collaboration with our local authority partners, a number of interventions and ideas that we can help to roll-out and evaluate.

By working in this way, we will ensure that the proposals we take forward for initial evaluation are those that seem most promising and of most potential benefit for children, families and staff at all levels.

The front door

Wave 1 Partner

We will work with the partner to explore how the ‘front door’ is currently managed and generate ideas for how it might be managed differently and more effectively to better meet the needs of children and families in a timely way.

"B&NES Council Children Services are very excited by the opportunity to be a Pioneer Partner with the What Works centre for children's social care. This is a unique chance to be at the forefront of turning the latest research evidence into everyday social work practice, supporting us to continue to work positively with families to keep children safe."
Mike Bowden, Corporate Director, Bath and North East Somerset Council

Workforce well-being

Wave 1 Partner

We will work with the partner to explore what support makes the most difference for social workers and other social care staff, what changes might be made to improve recruitment, retention and well-being and how more effective support systems for workers make a difference to children and families.

“We are committed to be a learning organisation and as part of this we see being a first wave partner to the What Works Centre as a tremendous opportunity to explore new ideas that can be tested, in order to deliver better outcomes for children and be more effective in our practice. We have agreed to focus on ideas around developing the best environment to support social workers to practice well."
Alastair Gibbons Director of Operations, Birmingham Children's Trust

Safely reducing the need for children to enter care

Wave 1 Partners

We will work with the partners to explore how current approaches are working to safely reduce the need for children to enter care and what further interventions might make a difference, including edge-of-care support but also thinking more widely about the system as a whole and the place and potential of different approaches to family support.

Effective supervision and decision-making

Wave 1 Partners

We will work with the partners to explore what makes for good supervision and what different it makes for children and families, including how best to support informed decision-making and how different approaches to supervision support (or inhibit) different approaches in practice.

“We are delighted to be selected to be a first wave partner with What Works to test evidence informed practice so that we can provide an even better service to children and families in Central Bedfordshire, and influence national practice.”
Sue Harrison, Director for Children’s Services, Central Bedfordshire Council

“I’m delighted that our commitment to evidence-led social work practice has been recognised in our selection as a wave one partner contributing to the What Works Centre. The focus of our research will be on assessing the effectiveness of supervision on our decision making and how staff work together to choose the best approach. This work is vital as it will inform how decisions are made to protect and safeguard children and young people, not just in Cambridgeshire but across the UK, to ensure that they receive the best care and can achieve their potential.”
Cllr Simon Bywater, Chairman of the Children and Young People Committee, Cambridgeshire County Council

Change Programme Partners

Our second call for partners is now live.
The closing date for applications is 31 October 2018.

Sign up for updates on Wave 1 and the next call for partners.

Who's involved

Development team

Research partner