Details of the events that What Works Scotland has organised or participated in since 2015.

Speakers’ presentations, recordings and event reports are available for many of these.



Children and young people: using research and evidence to make change happen

This seminar shared the most recent insights and learning on what works in place-based approaches to improving outcomes for children and young people, drawing on findings from two What Works centres: What Works Scotland and the Wales Centre for Public Policy.



Effective leadership and networked governance: Public service and community leadership – What works and why?

A seminar that drew together some of the key findings from the What Works Scotland research on public service and community leadership. This was a forum for discussion and the development of ideas and responses to develop leadership that takes our public services and the leadership agenda to the next level.


Research for Change – Beyond What Works

Conference which explored the role and use of data and evidence as key components in the development, design and delivery of good public services.

Webinar: Transforming communities? Exploring the roles of community anchor organisations in public service reform – supporting, leading and challenging?

This webinar drew from the recent What Works Scotland research report on community-led, holistic community organisations – in particular as community development trusts and community-controlled housing associations.

Empowering People and Places: What Works?

Conference focused on engaging with research insights into what works and what does not, in community empowerment, as well as discussing implications for the future of policy and practice in Scotland.


Webinar: Participatory budgeting and its potential for community empowerment and social justice

This webinar looked at what needs to happen to ensure that the mainstreaming of PB simultaneously carves out space for more complex participatory and deliberative processes in local government decision-making.


Britain after Brexit: the political and economic choices ahead

Sir Martin Donnelly, former permanent secretary at the UK Department of International Trade, gave this Policy Scotland lecture.

Research, collaboration and inspection: towards a research-informed system

In this seminar Professor Daniel Muijs, Head of Research at OfSTED, spoke about encouraging the development of evidence-informed approaches across the education sector.


Evidence to Action: what works for public service reform

Seminar which presented key What Works Scotland learnings from Evidence to Action projects and practical advice and tools for incorporating the use of evidence in decision-making and public service delivery.

Experiences of refugee resettlement in Scotland

This workshop was focused deepening our understanding of the experiences and challenges faced by refugees who have resettled in Scotland. It shared the findings from two new What Works Scotland research reports which looked at how public services are responding to meeting the needs of refugees and asylum seekers.


Peer learning opportunity between What Works Scotland and Jam and Justice Action Research Co-operative (Greater Manchester)

This opportunity, organised  by What Works Scotland and the Jam and Justice Action Research Co-operative (ARC) based in Greater Manchester, offered a range of facilitated peer exchange and learning activities focused on our shared interests and approaches.

The potential of community anchor organisations to engage with, lead and challenge the reform of public services in Scotland

A seminar to share our learnings about community anchors and their role in public service reform. It offered space for dialogue, discussion and deliberation on community anchors, the community sector and their relationship to public service reform.


‘Disinvestment’, or ‘freeing up’ resources for reinvestment?

This seminar, run by What Works Scotland in partnership with ScotPHN and NHS Health Scotland, examined issues around changing the balance of spend for emphasis on prevention and to shift the balance of care away from hospitals into social care in the community. It considered the assumptions around disinvestment, and how to measure and realise potential savings in prevention.

Report launch: Key findings from the Survey of Community Planning Officials in Scotland

NEW! Watch the video! This webinar was an opportunity to learn more about the findings from the first ever Community Planning Officials Survey and discuss what it means for community planning work, public service reform and community empowerment.


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

This seminar examined 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.



Hard-to-reach or easy-to-ignore? A review of evidence about equality in community engagement

Watch the video of this event, which shared the findings of an evidence review exploring the intersection between community engagement and equality – Video available.

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.


A life-first approach: What citizens want from support services

This partnership event with Carnegie UK Trust and the University of Edinburgh discussed the findings of the What Do Citizens Want? research on how support services fit into people’s day to day lives.


Why Attitudes to Poverty Matter: What the Evidence Says

This policy seminar explored how we can use evidence to challenge stereotypes and address poverty. It brought together Scottish Government policymakers, third sector actors, and academic researchers working on poverty, and was part of our contributions to Challenge Poverty Week 2017.

Leadership, Collaboration and Public Service Reform – What Works?

Successfully reforming public services calls for a kind of leadership that fosters and promotes partnerships and collaboration within, between and beyond individual services. In this seminar we discussed some of the key concepts that underpin collaborative leadership in public service settings and reflected on what this means for practitioners.


Poverty, schools and inequality: reducing the cost of the school day

This event, organised by What Works Scotland (WWS) and the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships (CRFR), provided an opportunity to understand the impact of the costs of school on the poorest parents and reflect on how the Pupil Equity Fund might be used to effectively tackle inequalities and reduce the attainment gap.


Preventing and mitigating child poverty

This event, organised by What Works Scotland and the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, explored the evidence and issues surrounding actions to tackle child poverty locally in Scotland.


Naomi Eisenstadt lecture – Review of the Life Chances of Young People

This lecture, co-hosted by What Works Scotland, Policy Scotland and the Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change at the University of Glasgow, marked the launch of Naomi Eisenstadt’s second report to the Scottish Government as Independent Advisor on Poverty and Inequality, which focuses on the life chances of young people in Scotland. The main themes of her report are employment, housing and mental health.


People, Prejudice and Planning: Community-based responses to promoting equality and tackling hate

Joint seminar with the Scottish Community Development Centre to hear about, and learn from, the experiences of community-based projects working locally on combating prejudice.

Book launch – The People’s Verdict: Adding Informed Citizen Voices to Public Decision-Making

Claudia Chwalisz presented key findings in The People’s Verdict, a study of 50 long-form deliberative processes where randomly-selected citizens played key roles in decision-making. Participants discussed the role that Scotland can play in advancing democratic innovation.

What works in economic regeneration?

Event related to a forthcoming What Works Scotland report asking what works in place-based economic regeneration in Scotland.


Outcomes-based Approaches in Public Service Reform

Seminar that explored the place of outcomes-based approaches within public service reform in Scotland and their utility in the process of service reform.

Public service reform, scrutiny and inspection: Where to next?

A seminar that drew together a range of key stakeholders to explore and reflect on the implications for the future of scrutiny and inspection in Scotland.


Prevention and Prediction: Can we predict the impacts of prevention to inform policy and practice?

A seminar delivered jointly by NHS Health Scotland and What Works Scotland to explore how we can predict the impact of a greater emphasis on prevention on the demand for health and social care.


Fun, food, folk: Centrestage’s distinct approach to dignified food provision

Launch of our research report about Centrestage’s innovative food provision programme in some of the most deprived areas of North and East Ayrshire. The programme helps people to access support, address underlying problems, build relationships and develop capacity for community action.



Community-led approaches to Reducing Poverty: A Review of Evidence and Practice

Two events in Clydebank and Dundee with a presentation by Dr Richard Crisp about his report for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, as well as the opportunity to see other presentations and discuss practice and experiences in community-led approaches to reducing poverty. Get copies of the reports and presentations from the event, and see the reactions and reflections from the attendees.


International Experiences in Participatory Budgeting: A Session with Giovanni Allegretti

This seminar was an opportunity to hear about international participatory budgeting experiences and the comparisons with current developments in Scotland.

Locked Out, Locked In: Young People, Adulthood and Desistance from Crime

This seminar presented findings from a qualitative study of young people living in poverty, providing unique insight into their lives. It explored how young people end contact with services, their experiences and views of the ‘transition to adulthood’, and also what triggered, helped and hindered those who were trying to desist from offending.


Exploring evidence, tools and strategies to expand the scope of prevention in public services

This seminar summarised recent evidence on the economics of prevention that can be used to help to make these choices and discussed the challenges of developing effective strategies and tools to support prevention, preventative spend and reducing inequalities.


Designing public policy for co-production: Theory, practice and change

This event hosted by What Works Scotland and the Scottish Co-Production Network launched the book ‘Designing public policy for co-production: Theory, practice and change’, by Catherine Durose, University of Birmingham, and Liz Richardson, University of Manchester.

Setting Priorities in Health and Social Care Integration: Economic and Provider Perspectives

This seminar from What Works Scotland and Health Economics Network for Scotland explored approaches to priority setting in health and social care, aimed at helping people involved in the development of health and social care partnerships, and working in those partnerships, as they seek to prioritise areas of investment.



Creating Effective Partnerships to Deliver Public Services

This event was the launch of ‘Partnership working in UK public services’, an accessible, action-oriented evidence review produced by What Works Scotland’s Evidence Bank.


Getting Knowledge into Action in Fife

This half-day seminar explored the issues and challenges of using different kinds of evidence to inform action to help people in the public or voluntary sectors look at how different kinds of evidence can be used to help plan, design and deliver services and service improvements.

Inclusion Scotland Roadshows: Have your say on what disability research should focus on

These roadshows by DRILL (Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning) launched a new five-year funded research programme where disabled people, academics and policymakers will work together on projects related to support for independent living.


Battle of Ideas: The Referendum One Year On – a healthcheck on democracy

This event looked at the seemingly contradictory electoral choices made by the Scottish people in the September 2014 independence referendum and the 2015 general election. While dissatisfaction with Westminster and a collapse of trust in representation were key driving forces, what else lay behind these events?

Policy-making: Does Anyone Care?

This seminar highlighted the issues involved for public servants presenting a professional face whilst also dealing with the emotional aspects of dealing with real people on a day-to-day basis.

People Making a Difference in Communities Conference

This one-day conference featured leading scholars from Denmark, Netherlands, England and Scotland, sharing and discussing their research, which focuses on ‘people who make a difference in communities’.


What Works Scotland at Explorathon

What Works Scotland took part in Explorathon 2015 in Glasgow. Explorathon is a European celebration of science and research, with multiple events all on one day.

Innovation and Equity: Working Together for Educational Change

This seminar with guest speaker Professor Penny Wohlstetter was hosted by the Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change and What Works Scotland.

Distributed Leadership: Theory, Principle and Practice

This seminar with guest speaker Professor Jim Spillane was hosted by Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change and the Scottish College for Educational Leadership.

What Works Wellbeing – Community Evidence Programme Workshop

This workshop, led by What Works Centre for Wellbeing community evidence programme, explored how wellbeing evidence can be useful in the day-to-day work of those working in devolved government, as well as organisations developing and advocating for policy ideas.

The Populist Signal: Why Politics and Democracy Need to Change

This event was an opportunity to look at how a deep sense of political alienation is a fertile breeding ground for populists. There was a focus on the report ‘The Populist Signal’ produced by Claudia Chwalisz for the Policy Network.

NHS Scotland Local Intelligence Support Team: Autumn Gathering

This event was co-hosted with Perth and Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership with the aims of the day for people working on health and social care integration to understand how the Local Intelligence Support Team can help them to translate information into action to meet local priorities.

Promoting the ‘Human’ in Human Rights

At this event, which looked at developing a more responsive state, guest speaker Professor Martha Albertson Fineman explained how her ‘universal vulnerability’ theory could frame arguments to rebut neoliberal emphasis on personal responsibility and individual liberty.


Policy Reunion: National Standards for Community Engagement

This event was part of the on-going review process of the National Standards for Community Engagement. The Policy Reunion looked back to the origins of the Standards to understand how they came about and take stock of their impact.


Marginalisation, Stigma and Choice

This workshop was jointly hosted by the Behaviour, Structure and Interventions (BSI) research network and Policy Scotland. It included an introduction to What Works Scotland and a presentation on capabilities and outcomes.

Participation Week Launch event – Participation and Citizen Ownership: The Challenge for Government

This launch event for Participation Week explored benefits and challenges of transforming public services in Scotland by involving people in the decisions that affect their lives.

Participation Week – Participation: What Works?

This event was an opportunity to hear about a range of examples of how governments are experimenting with ways to involve people and communities in decisions that affect their lives. and explore how we can apply the learning in our work.

Co-production of Public Services: Design and Innovation

This workshop explored the contribution of co-production to the design, improvement and innovation of public services. It was a forum for discussion on the definition, implementation and outcomes of co-production and to explore the links to service design and innovation.

Keyword: Partnership

This Economic and Social Research Council workshop run by Policy Scotland looked at what do we mean by partnership working? What factors lead to partnership breakdown or inertia? What can community and university partnerships contribute?


Economics of Prevention

The event brought together experts from Police Scotland, housing and early years. The discussion focused on how they have achieved a shift to prevention in the design and delivery of their services, what this has meant in terms of the way their services are run and how it has been enacted.

Public Service Reform in Health and Social Care: Norwegian and Scottish experiences

This seminar explored the reform of health and social care services in Norway and Scotland and considered how this learning can help us understand what works in our own local contexts.

Making Better Decisions? Using Citizens’ Juries in Scotland

This event provided an opportunity to hear about a unique project undertaken by ClimateXChange and the University of Edinburgh which looked at how to directly involve diverse groups of citizens in decision-making on issues that affect them.


Using Evidence to Develop Public Services

The event aimed to help people in the public or voluntary sectors look at how different kinds of evidence can be used to help plan, design and deliver services and service improvements.


The Economics of Prevention

This event was co-hosted by What Works Scotland and Health Scotland. The presentations looked at improving health and reducing health inequalities, how economics can provide guidance and a systematic way of thinking about decision-making, and implementing prevention through community planning.

Policy Reunion: Community Planning Partnerships

This Policy Scotland Reunion event brought together a panel to discuss the emergence and evolution of Community Planning Partnerships, a cornerstone of public service reforms in Scotland.

Democratic Sector Day

This event was an opportunity for people working in the public participation sector in Scotland to share ideas, projects and ambitions, and hopefully develop a better understanding of this ‘community of practice’ in Scotland.