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Social Business Review 2018: What we learnt

Our Chief Operating Officer, Naomi Hulston, considers why it's important for us, as an organisation, to reflect and learn from what went wrong in 2018.

04 January 2019

We think it’s as important to recognise what went wrong – and what we learnt from it – as it is to celebrate our success. we are an organisation constantly striving to improve, and innovate.

Our structure

We need to be more collaborative

We’d set up directorates to ensure deep sector knowledge, reflecting the way public policy and delivery is divided in Whitehall and Local Authorities. While this aids procurement processes, our structure too closely reflected the commissioning framework we are trying to reform because we know it doesn’t work for individuals, families, or communities. Since 2016 we’ve been embedding a new, more integrated, organisation with clear accountability and specialist expertise protected. We’re changing our culture and practice using collaboration tools, and we know we still have some way to go before we are truly integrated around the needs of people, not the needs of systems.

Our incubation

We need to get it right

It was important to us to use our breadth and voice as a platform to support small organisation and social entrepreneurs, and it was also important to us to ensure this was organic and bespoke, not a rigid or transactional set of contracts. This approach was successful in many ways but placed a burden on our own systems which at times led to confusion of expectations or a gap between what was promised and what was possible. With help from the Big Lottery Fund we have strengthened our own administrative functions and are designing an approach to incubation which gets the balance between consistency and flexibility right.

Our education

Being clear with our partners

In all our alternative provision, from SEMH schools to the Study Programme, our teams know that size matters: small classes, teams and schools are more supportive and tailored. It’s increasingly the case that sustainable funding relies on pupil roll, and without a minimum number we can’t provide everything we know is needed for children, young people and their families. Ever increasing regulation and knowledge about what works to keep children safe and learning means being firmer with commissioners – and the communities around our schools – about how they need to work with us.

Our priorities

A focus on reform

We all work for Catch22 because we want to reform public services for greater effectiveness and efficiency. Ensuring everything we do is both intrinsically good, for the person we’re supporting, but is at the same time instrumental in improving the wider system, is hard! For us reform is everyone’s business and we have embedded this mindset into our recruitment and induction, our business and development, our strategic communications, and our staff rewards.