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Co-designing with partners

We are working with local partners to design and test promising approaches to generating and sharing evidence, and supporting evidence-informed practice.

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 with a great many organisations to make a success of this initiative. We are working particularly closely with local authority and trust partners to co-design and test tools and services that aim to:
• make research evidence more relevant
• make insights from research evidence more accessible
• help practitioners and practice leaders to use evidence well
• help practice leaders to foster cultures in which effective evidence use is the norm

Pioneer partner projects, July-December 2018

We have been working with 21 local authorities and trusts across England, to:
• co-design and test tools and services
• generate new evidence

Co-designing and testing tools and services

Details about these projects can be found in the following pages:

We have been working with ten local authorities to develop and test tools and services that the Centre might deploy to generate and share evidence, and to support evidence-informed practice. 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.
Learning from this process will continue to be shared 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 have provided invaluable insights and advice based on their experience during this first wave to December 2018.

We would like to extend our sincere gratitude and thanks to all Pioneer partners who have given up their valuable time to help us in 2018, the Centre’s first year.

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
• Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES) Council
We are working with B&NES 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
• Birmingham Children’s Trust
We are working with Birmingham Children’s Trust 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
• Bristol City Council
• Hartlepool Borough Council
We have been working 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
• Cambridgeshire County Council
• Central Bedfordshire Council
We have been working 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 Projects Partners

The closing date for applications was 31 October 2018 and this call is now closed.


Who's involved

Development team

Research partner