Tag Archive: capacity building

Feb 20 2016

Economic Growth Advisor

The Economic Growth Advisor (EGA) programme was introduced by the Local Government Association in 2014 to promote, facilitate and enhance the role of local authorities in delivering economic growth. Derrick Johnstone was recruited to the panel of EGAs, whose role has been to offer bespoke advice and support to individual local authorities.trdc-logo

Derrick advised Three Rivers District Council in Hertfordshire (see LGA case study):

  • providing a fresh look at the local evidence base around economic growth, contributing to an updated Economic Profile
  • preparing a ‘critical friend’ report to the Management Board recommending steps to sharpen the Council’s approach to economic development
  • identifying good practice advice on introducing a Business Charter
  • advising on the content and structure of a revised Economic Development Strategy.

The ‘critical friend’ role was particularly valued, highlighting how, in low cost ways, the Council can add more value in pursuit of economic growth.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educe.co.uk/?p=1286

Apr 20 2015

Use of evidence in Parliamentary business

Improving future use of research and evidence featured in the conclusions of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee inquiry into its work since 2010.

Looking to the new 2015 Parliament, the Committee recommended exploring how organisations such as the Alliance for Useful Evidence and the What Works Centres might usefully feed into the Committee’s future work, eg, in undertaking rapid reviews of available evidence on inquiry topics.

The Alliance for Useful Evidence submitted evidence jointly with Derrick Johnstone of Educe, author of our report, Squaring the Circle: evidence at the local level. Our submission updated some developments since its publication in 2013, and set out recommendations relating to the future work of the Committee.

The Committee acknowledged several of our suggestions, not least on the need to draw on wider sources of evidence and apply standards of evidence such as those adopted by Bond, the UK membership body for international development.

The Committee expressed concern about the DCLG response to its calls to explain the evidence base lying behind some areas of policy decision-making. It is attracted by the example of the Education Committee’s ‘evidence check’ where views are invited on the strength of evidence from the Department of Education on selected Committee themes. This web forum is intended to help with identifying where contrasting evidence exists and shape future Committee work.

Amongst proposals for future Committee inquiries are Devolution and City Deals. We, like the RSA City Growth Commission, highlight underlying issues around analytical capacity, skills and data as a significant area of risk to successful implementation. These are worthy of the Committee’s attention, looking at, eg:

  • how local authorities and their partners are adapting and strengthening their capabilities
  • how far information sharing and open data developments are supporting judicious innovation and improving evaluation of impact and ‘what works’
  • how well Government departments and local authorities are developing common understanding of evidence requirements, and
  • the contribution of government initiatives such as the What Works Centres and the Public Sector Transformation Network to local decision-making and capacity building.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educe.co.uk/?p=1326

Dec 20 2013

Plotting a course – The Prospects Trust

The Prospects Trust is a well-established local charity working with people who have learning disabilities. They provide training and work opportunities in horticulture, organic market gardening, and off-site garden services. They were one of the runners-up in the National Lottery ‘People’s Millions’ competition in 2013. Prospects-Trust

Recent years have seen the Trust grow, not least in the number of co-workers assisted by personal support workers. The time was right in Autumn 2013 for staff and trustees to come together for a strategy workshop facilitated by Derrick Johnstone. Participants took stock of the current position of the Trust and its ethos, and considered its future direction as a social enterprise. Actions agreed included steps to strengthen business development and people management functions, necessary given the Trust’s expansion, and to provide greater opportunities for support workers to progress.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educe.co.uk/?p=1233

Mar 04 2013

Essex OnLine Partnership development

Derrick Johnstone facilitated a development day for the Essex OnLine Partnership (EOLP), which brings together the IT teams across the Essex local authorities, Police and Fire to reduce costs, improve information management and develop the quality of IT services.EOLP Logo The Partnership has evolved significantly over the years and brought substantial value for its members through cost savings and other benefits, eg, in shared learning and a national profile. The timing of the event was significant: EOLP had reached a crossroads in its development, with questions about the future, about the Partnership’s focus and what will bind partner commitment.

Participants reaffirmed the purpose of EOLP and agreed steps to strengthen collaboration, including work on the next generation of IT infrastructure, recruitment of a new partnership manager, and more concerted action to capture and publicise Partnership impact and benefits. Other themes included the scope to make more of the combined staff resource across the partner authorities and the need for a greater focus on the ‘I’ in IT, as partner organisations seek to gain more from their information assets.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educe.co.uk/?p=1148

Dec 09 2011

Smarter Partnerships

The Smarter Partnerships website helps users improve partnership skills and performance. SITE SUSPENDED – CURRENTLY BEING REVAMPED

You will find there:

  • interactive tools to assist individuals, cross-agency teams and partnerships assess both (i) partnership development and (ii) individual and team learning needs. Work your way through the stages, and get advice for actions you can take, appropriate to your circumstances.
  • on-line resources: case studies, tools and links to help users address learning needs and improve partnership working

Smarter Partnerships was one of the first partnership toolkits to be developed, and remains the only freely available one which is genuinely interactive, in allowing users to assess their partnership, and their learning needs in real time, and receive feedback on what they can do to address these needs.

We continue to have approaches from other organisations to make use of the materials – most recently by the Learning and Skills Improvement Service. Smarter Partnerships tools now feature in their ‘Support for Collaborative Contracting’ package. This has been developed in the light of the decision by the Skills Funding Agency to move to Minimum Level Contracts, necessitating much wider development of supply chain partnerships amongst learning providers. Other recent examples of use have included a county basic skills partnership and an aboriginal drugs and alcohol partnership in Perth, Western Australia.

More generally, the usefulness of Smarter Partnerships is recognised in the frequency by which other sites provide links – eg, National School of Government, the Improvement Network and the Improvement Service (Scotland).

Smarter Partnerships was developed by Educe for the Employers Organisation for Local Government – now part of the Local Government Association. The project was originally funded by the then Department for Education and Skills, and built on a ‘state of the art’ review ( pdf 205KB in 2000 of partnerships and local government.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educe.co.uk/?p=139

Oct 20 2011

A national information function for local government?

The Local Government Association (LGA) wished to establish what actions might be needed to ensure local government has access to good quality data and information to help improve services and outcomes for local people, whether it be for needs assessment, service planning, performance management, informing citizens about performance, or more generally, decision-making with partners.With Oxford Conusltants for Social Inclusion (OCSI), we undertook took a range of soundings and background research to explore:
  • the need for sector action to improve access to, the sharing and use of data, including possibly support in breaking down cultural and other barriers to better use of information
  • realistic options for a local government sector-owned function, that will collect, store and make accessible data and information – linking as appropriate to other national systems
A presentation on the project was made to the CLIP (Central Local Information Partnership) annual conference in October 2008.Our report was used by a working group set up the the LGA Improvement Board, whose work was covered by a Local Government Chronicle article on 21 May 2009. In essence, the report concluded that while there is a great deal of data available to councils and partnerships, they do not always have the ability or capacity to use it. There are also gaps in information or it is scattered across a range of sources making it time-consuming to collate. There are key areas where councils could potentially benefit from LGA Group support. These range from small, quick wins such as sharing knowledge on research/data suppliers and services to larger initiatives, eg, on  benchmarking.The research provided a foundation for the latest developments around performance data from the LGA, in the shape of LG Inform, which allows councils to access and compare data and present findings. This is part of the LGA’s Knowledge Hub intended to provide the “definitive online environment for local government to produce and capture its own knowledge” – all part of the local government sector taking full responsibility for its own data and improvement needs.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educe.co.uk/?p=231

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