This is an archived newsletter: please see the latest one on the Most recent newsletter page.

As we reach the end of 2017, we hope that this has been a successful and productive year for you. Good wishes for a relaxing break and we look forward to more dialogue, learning and sharing in 2018!


Forthcoming events

Nurturing the Buffer Zone: Conducting Collaborative Action Research with Public Service Practitioners in Scotland

Wednesday 10 January 2018, 4pm. University of Glasgow

Dr Hayley Bennett and Dr Richard Brunner will deliver a seminar as part of the Sociology Seminar Series on their research into the relational and political aspects of the CAR work. They are developing the concept of a ‘buffer zone’ to conceptualise the work that takes place to create and sustain relationships – beyond gatekeeping interactions – to undertake collaborative inquiry work.
Find out more on the University of Glasgow website

Budgeting for a Fairer Scotland
Wednesday 17 January 2018, 1.30pm. Teachers’ Building, Glasgow

Join the Health and Social Care Academy and What Works Scotland at an event to explore effective and inclusive budgeting. This event will cover gender, human rights and participatory budgeting, and will introduce approaches and  examples of large and small-scale budgeting in practice across the globe.

Taking a Deliberative Approach to Complexity: What can we learn from the Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit?

Tuesday 23 January 2018, 1.30pm. Edinburgh

This seminar will examine what we can learn from the experience of holding a Citizens’ Assembly about Brexit and consider the role of participatory processes like this in current decision-making in Scotland. It is sponsored by What Works Scotland, the UK Politics Network and the Academy of Government, all at the University of Edinburgh.
Register on Eventbrite

Past events

Presentations and resources from these What Works Scotland events are now available online .

Hard to Reach or Easy to Ignore? A review of evidence about equality in community engagement 
This event shared the findings of an evidence review which explores the intersection between community engagement and equality.

Co-Production and Public Service Reform
This seminar looked at the role of co-production, its role in reforming public services and how co-production can best be used to help develop sustainable and effective public services. Part of Co-production Week Scotland 2017.

Why Attitudes to Poverty Matter: What the Evidence Says 
This policy seminar, delivered in partnership with Social Policy Association, Poverty Alliance and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, explored how we can use evidence to challenge stereotypes and address poverty. It was part of our contribution to Challenge Poverty Week 2017.

Leadership, collaboration and public service reform
This seminar discussed some of the key concepts that underpin collaborative leadership in public service settings and reflect on what this means for practitioners.

Preventing and mitigating child poverty
Seminar organised by What Works Scotland and the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships to launch an evidence review exploring the evidence and issues surrounding actions to tackle child poverty locally in Scotland.

Poverty, schools and inequality: reducing the cost of the school day
Seminar to understand the impact of the costs of school on the poorest parents and consider how the Pupil Equity Fund might be used to effectively tackle inequalities and reduce the attainment gap.

Publications and resources

Conducting CAR with public services: insights from the research process
What Works Scotland researchers Dr Hayley Bennett and Dr Richard Brunner draw on their experiences of conducting a collaborative action research with multiple public services and reflect on the unexpected and expanded role for professional researchers in the complex environment of multi-agency collaborations.
See their presentations and blog post on the What Works Scotland website

What Do Citizens Want? How professional help and support fits into day to day lives
This research report looks in-depth at a small number of users of housing services, asking what makes their lives meaningful and exploring how support services fit into their lives. Produced by the Carnegie UK Trust, with research support from What Works Scotland, it shows the profound effect formal and informal relationships can have on people’s wellbeing.
See the report on Carnegie UK Trust website 

Pluralism and Democratic Participation: What Kind of Citizen are Citizens Invited to be?
An open access academic article by Dr Oliver Escobar which looks at differences and synergies between participatory, deliberative and representative models of democratic participation in policymaking and governance.
Read it at BRILL Online Book and Journals

Challenging Poverty Week: Blog collection 
What Works Scotland Research Fellow Dr Hayley Bennett draws together over 30 blogs from a range of academic and third sector researchers as part of our contribution to Challenge Poverty Week. These blogs include summaries of research findings on issues of poverty, think pieces on different approaches, and new ideas for future anti-poverty policymaking.

See the collection on the Challenge Poverty Week blog

Tackling Child Poverty: Actions to Prevent and Mitigate Child Poverty at the Local Level
This evidence review and briefing offers practicable steps to support local authorities and community planning partnerships to mitigate and prevent child poverty and identify early trigger signs that may suggest an increased risk of poverty. Produced by the What Works Scotland Evidence Bank.
See the evidence review and briefing on the What Works Scotland website

Mini-publics: examples and resources
Our work on mini-publics is part of a range of on-going work focused on participative decision-making, community engagement and governance. These resources include examples of mini-publics which what Works Scotland has been involved with, and reflections on what we have learnt from these experiments.
See the mini-publics’ page on the What Works Scotland website

Outcomes-based Approaches to Public Service Reform: Event Report
This report of a What Works Scotland event earlier in 2017 summarises the key messages from the presentations and captures the learning and issues raised during the discussion. It concludes with a summary of feedback about the event from participants.
See the report on the What Works Scotland website

What Works Scotland has submitted responses to:


Digging deep and getting dirty hands! Doing collaborative action research with public services
Since 2015 Dr Hayley Bennett and Dr Richard Brunner have been creating, adapting and co-producing collaborative action research activities with various public service professionals across Scotland.  Here they share insights on the role of professional researchers in collaborative, participatory and action research approaches.

Reflections on the welfare inquiry experience: Building and enhancing partnership working
Fife is one of the four case sites where What Works Scotland has worked with community planning partnerships on collaborative action research into public service reform. In this guest blog, Gary Smith, member of the Fife welfare reform inquiry team, reflects on the experience and impact of the collaborative action research activities.

Suicide, Alcohol- and Drug-related Death: Scottish Stories of Place-based Disadvantage and Male Vulnerability
In the latest of our series of blogs on place-based inequality, Dr Jon Minton discusses evidence from a recent study of risk and vulnerability to death in Scotland. The evidence shows that within the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods men are more vulnerable to death by alcohol, suicide or drugs.

Using research to change educational systems: possibilities and barriers 
Blog co-authored by What Works Scotland Co-director Chris Chapman and Mel Ainscow, Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Manchester, for the British Educational Research Association about massive reform programmes taking place in UK education systems. These developments open up new opportunities for researchers to contribute to and learn from the changes that are going on, yet many researchers often find themselves marginalised or excluded when major policy decisions are taken.

Events, news and resources from other organisations


  • The Third Sector Research Forum Conference takes place on 1 February 2018 in Edinburgh.
  • The Fire Starter Festival is a two-week Scotland-wide festival of collaborative learning events, illuminating creative, disruptive and innovative ways in which we can transform ourselves, our organisations and the wider system. It runs from 29 January to 9 February 2018.
  • The Gathering, organised by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, is the largest free third sector event in the UK, a place for all the amazing people working in the third sector to network, showcase what they do and learn from each other. The Gathering takes place from 21 to 22 February 2018 in Glasgow.


  • The Scottish Government has announced a total of 33 organisations which will receive Community Choices Funding in 2017/18 to host events and find new ways to encourage participation in financial decision-making.
  • The Carnegie UK Trust has funded 14 innovative public library projects across the UK to inspire conversations, curiosity and debate within their communities on health and wellbeing.


Sign up to the What Works Scotland newsletter