16 December 2015

Creating effective partnerships to deliver public services

Partnership working is central to the public services reform agenda across the UK and beyond, yet it can be difficult to create and sustain effective partnerships. What Works Scotland Community Planning Partnerships partners identified partnership working as a key issue at the heart of public service reform.

7 December 2015

Getting Knowledge into Action in Fife

Fifty people from across Fife Council, the health, and voluntary sectors met on 4 November to discuss how to get knowledge into action in Fife. This followed on from a previous What Works Scotland national event on Getting Knowledge in Action in Public Services, held in Edinburgh earlier in the year. 

Four speakers shared their insight into evidence into action. Paul Vaughan set the scene in Fife; Sarah Morton talked about the issues of getting evidence into action; and David Paterson and Coryn Barclay shared examples of evidence to action projects in Fife.

27 November 2015

Community Anchors and Opportunities for Locally-led Public Service Reform

Reflecting on his recently published Think Piece on this subject, James Henderson, Research Associate with What Works Scotland, considers the potential for community anchors and the community sector to be central to local democratic and inequalities-focused approaches to public service reform in Scotland.

12 November 2015

Scotland Welcomes Refugees - How do strangers become citizens?

In this blog Claire Bynner, What Works Scotland Research Associate, considers what increasing diversity means for local areas and what local government and community planning partnerships (CPPs) can do to support the settlement of new migrants. How can the transition towards more diverse communities be made easier?

3 November 2015

Engaging with the Edges


This is the first part of a trilogy of posts in which What Works Scotland's guest blogger Patricia Anne Rodger explores the issues around those deemed "hard to reach". 

In this post she looks at social shorthand and stigma.

9 October 2015

Taking A Distributed Perspective to Leading & Managing

Jim Spillane.jpg Professor James Spillane, from the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University explains why he considers distributive leadership a fascinating topic and essential to successful school leadership.

16 September 2015

The National Standards for Community Engagement – Back to the Future





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David Allan, Deputy Director at Scottish Community Development Centre, reflects on the Policy Reunion event which looked at the National Standards for Community Engagement, in Glasgow on the 28th August.

9 September 2015

Health and social care integration: Sharing learning across the North Sea

Dr Ailsa Cook from Outcome Focus, Dr Guro Huby from University College Østfold and Dr Sarah Morton from What Works Scotland reflect on the Scottish and Norwegian approaches to improving public services for people with mental health issues and addictions.

31 August 2015

Governing with the people

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Our guest blogger, Claudia Chwalisz, Senior Policy Researcher at Policy Network and Crook Public Service Fellow at the University of Sheffield discusses political participation for citizens.


13 August 2015

Reforming services: the example of refugee support

Joe Brady, Head of Protection & Integration at the Scottish Refugee Council, explains an organisational change process that led to a sharper focus on assets. He explains how service redesign was achieved through developing principles and trying and testing new approaches to learn what works in tackling issues of refugee integration and exclusion. This has included using Christie Principles and integrating evidence to action.

12 August 2015

A democratic future for community planning?

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Guest blogger Calum Irving, Chief Executive of Voluntary Action Scotland, explains how his organisation has been working on a new vision for third sector interfaces to build the third sector’s relationship with community planning.

24 July 2015

Think YES? How to deliver transformational change in relationships between staff, managers and local people

What would you do if the head of your organisation suddenly told you to change your working practice and ‘Think Yes’ in everything you do? Well, that's precisely what happened to housing officers working for Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) when their new chief executive piloted an approach to leadership that fundamentally altered relationships between staff, their managers and their tenant and resident customers. 

In this blog Claire Bynner and Ken Gibb describe the experiences and impact of this leadership programme from the point of view of staff at GHA, who shared the story of Think Yes at a What Works Scotland Roundtable event at Glasgow University on 15th June.

7 July 2015

Local Government Finance


James Mitchell, Professor of Public Policy in the Academy of Government at the University of Edinburgh, summarises a recent presentation he delivered to CoSLA on local government finance.




3 July 2015

What Works Centre for Wellbeing: Call out for stakeholder engagement

Guest blogger Hannah Wheatley from the Wellbeing Team within the New Economics Foundation introduces the What Works Centre for Wellbeing, recently launched by the What Works Network as a government-funded initiative aiming to enable a range of stakeholders to access evidence on wellbeing.

18 June 2015

The economics of prevention: ways of seeing

What Works Scotland Research Associate, Richard Brunner reflects on the recent Economics of Prevention seminar jointly organised by What Works Scotland and NHS Health Scotland.

People make Partnerships



Tony-Fisher[1].pngGuest blogger Anthony Fisher, Team Leader in a Community Care Team, social work student in the third sector and Scottish Collaborative Innovation Partnership Process (SCIPP) member attempts to simplify why partnership is the way ahead and that it's so much more than sharing office space.

17 June 2015

Why and how 'what works' is important for Scotland

As Chief Researcher at the Scottish Government, Zoe Ferguson was instrumental in establishing What Works Scotland. Here, she reflects on the journey so far.

12 June 2015

I can't believe it's not better

Nick Bland, Co-Director at What Works Scotland, shares reflections on an evidence review, ‘Scaling-Up Innovation’, published today as part of What Works Scotland’s workstream on Spread and Sustainability.

28 May 2015

Co-production: Do we know what it is and what it achieves?

Guest blogger Elinor Findlay, Office of the Chief Social Policy Adviser, Scottish Government, discusses our understanding of 'co-production', an increasingly popular term used in policy design and in response to the challenges associated with public sector reform. But, what is it? What does it mean for how services are designed and delivered? And, what does it mean for people and communities, and how they engage with each other and with services? And – an important question for me as a researcher – what evidence is there of its benefits and impact?

15 May 2015

Can we tackle poverty by changing how we talk about it?

Dr Hayley Bennett, Research Associate at What Works Scotland, discusses the Poverty Alliance’s campaign to address the stigma of poverty.

7 May 2015

Asset Based Community Development: Focusing on what matters.

Guest blogger Cormac Russell, Managing Director of Nurture Development, Faculty member of the ABCD Institute and Director of ABCD Europe, continues the discussion on asset-based community development, initiated by an earlier blog


22 April 2015

What’s the Matter with Asset-Based Community Development?


Guest blogger, Dr. Akwugo Emejulu, Senior Lecturer at the Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh, reflects on the relevance of asset-based community development to What Works Scotland.


10 April 2015

Democratic evaluation for the 21st Century


Guest blogger Robert Picciotto, from King’s College, London explores whether the democratic evaluation model from half a century ago is still fit for purpose in a world of rapid internationalization, economic inequality and social fragmentation.

7 April 2015

Why Can’t We Trust the Word ‘Welfare’ in Policy Making?


Dr Hayley Bennett , Research Associate at What Works Scotland, reflects on a talk given by Professor John Hills, London School of Economics (LSE) at the School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh, on Friday 20th March. 
Dr Hayley Bennett's research interests include British employment policy, minimum income provision, and activation programmes.

3 April 2015

The Economics of Prevention and Difficult Decisions for Community Planning Partnerships in Scotland


Claire Bynner, Research Associate at What Works Scotland, reflects on a seminar held by What Works Scotland last week on the Economics of Prevention.

This blog summarises the main points from the seminar and concludes that evidence provides no easy answers for CPPs.

26 March 2015

Looking back on Community Planning Partnerships - Policy reunion

Erica Wimbush shares a blog post from the Policy Reunion focused on the emergence and evolution of Community Planning Partnerships, held on 24 March and organised and chaired by Professor Ken Gibb as part of the What Works Scotland initiative.

23 March 2015

‘What Works’ in Raising Educational Standards? Learning Lessons and Rising to the ‘Challenge’

What Works Scotland Co-Director Professor Chris Chapman reflects on lessons from London for the Scottish Attainment Challenge, a £100 million initiative designed to close the gap in attainment of children from more and less advantaged backgrounds. 


11 March 2015

Democratic Sector Day


Christian Storstein shares a blog post from the Democratic Sector Day, organised by Oliver Escobar and colleagues from What Works Scotland.

See it on the Scottish Government Digital Engagement blog: http://blogs.scotland.gov.uk/digitalengagement/2015/03/06/democratic-sector-day/

A Better Place: Communities, Citizens and Consumers & New Approaches to Social Policy & Public Services

Alistair Stoddart, Community Engagement & Scotland Lead with The Democratic Society, shares some initial thoughts from the Better Place forum. 

5 March 2015

What might the Capabilities approach bring to public service reform in Scotland?

Richard Brunner, What Works Scotland Research Fellow, and Nick Watson,What Works Scotland Co-Director, explore the concept of 'capabilities' as a framework for public service reform. A working paper on capabilities has also been published.

2 March 2015

Meet the WWS staff: Research Fellows Richard Brunner and Claire Bynner

Since the launch of What Works Scotland in June 2014, we have been establishing our case study areas and setting up a staff team.  Here we introduce two of our research fellows Richard Brunner and Claire Bynner.

23 February 2015

Jim Mather reviews The Whitehall Effect by John Seddon, an uncompromising account of Whitehall’s effect on our public services.

In this blog former Scottish Government minister Jim Mather reviews John Seddon's latest book The Whitehall Effect: How Whitehall became the enemy of great public services and what we can do about it. It addresses themes central to the goals of What Works Scotland and builds on earlier work that has already influenced the emergence of a new Scottish model of development and delivery. 

17 February 2015

Beyond cynicism and complacency: Participatory budgeting in Scotland

Oliver Escobar, Lecturer in Public Policy at the University of Edinburgh and part of the What Works Scotland team, outlines how participatory budgeting is gaining momentum in Scotland.


12 January 2015

Creating an Evidence Bank for Public Service Reform


Karen Seditas and Sarah Morton share details of the What Works Scotland Evidence Bank that is currently being developed to support the use of evidence in public service reform.