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Programme Insights

Rather than writing a long evaluation report at the end of the five-year programme – which would likely be read by very few people – the Realising Ambition consortium are instead producing a series of 10 Programme Insights.

Each of these Programme Insights is designed to share reflections, learning and practical implications from Realising Ambition. There are three themes to these Insights:

  • Focus Pieces that describe concepts and share some of our reflections and opinions
  • Findings Pieces that report empirical data emerging from the programme and associated evaluation activities
  • Field Guides that are practical ‘how to’ guides for a variety of audiences.

By sharing ideas, successes, challenges and even some mistakes, we hope to support and inspire others considering, undertaking or commissioning their own replication journey.

Issue 1: The Secret Life of Innovation: Replication

Defining success in replicating effective services for children and young people

Realising Ambition Programme Insight - The Secret Life of Innovation (Cover)In the first of our Programme Insights, we explore the topic of replication: delivering a service into new geographical areas or to new or different audiences.

We examine the reasons for replicating in children’s services, the ingredients for successful replication and the stages involved.

We also explore the links between replication and innovation – two concepts that are not as different from one another as you might think!

This briefing is also available in Welsh

Issue 2: Evidence is Confidence

How to create a richer evidential tapestry

Realising Ambition Programme Insight - Evidence is ConfidenceIn the second of our Programme Insights, we focus on the role of evidence in the replication process.

We argue that the process of replication requires a broader definition of evidence, one that includes but also moves beyond just evidence of impact.

We also consider how to take an overview of this more nuanced take on evidence and what the implications of this approach are for commissioning.

This briefing is also available in Welsh

Issue 3: Dismantling the Hierarchy

The iterative nature of service improvement and the generation of evidence

Realising Ambition Programme Insight - Dismantling the HierarchyIn the third of our Programme Insights, we explore to what degree the 25 Realising Ambition projects have refined their services and strengthened their evidence-base over the course of their delivery.

We discuss the benefits and limitations to the Standards of Evidence and how generating evidence is a continuous process.



Issue 4: Proving vs Improving

Routine outcome monitoring to support service improvement efforts

programme-insight-4-proving-vs-improving-coverIn the fourth of our Programme Insights, we consider data on how young people have benefitted over the last three and a half years from six Realising Ambition projects that have now finished their delivery within the programme.

We also explore how we came to see data on outcomes for young people as more than just a means of gauging success – it became clear that data can support service refinement and adaptation when replicating services.


Issue 5: Turning the Lens

How organisational strength supports replication

programme-insight-5-coverIn the fifth of our Programme Insights, we focus on organisational readiness to replicate alongside flexibility to adapt to the demands of delivering interventions. We outline what characteristics an organisation needs to be able to replicate, how their ability can be assessed and how areas for development can be identified.

The briefing also covers the replication models that Realising Ambition organisations have used to deliver their services and then explores universal issues that organisations can face in every replication irrespective of the replication model.


Issue 6: The Trials and Tribulations of Realising Ambition

Doing randomised controlled trials in the real world

In our sixth Programme Insight, we take a frank look at the process of conducting real-world randomised controlled trials (RCTs), how they are delivered and how their results can be used.


Issue 7: Commissioning Possible

Meeting the challenges of evidence-based commissioning

In our seventh Programme Insight, we consider key issues evidence-based commissioning is presenting to commissioners. We offer learning from the Realising Ambition delivery organisations on the role that evidence has played as they have engaged commissioners with their preventative services.

We also examine the Realising Ambition Confidence Framework. This resource helps to assess services’ and their delivery organisations’ ability to achieve outcomes while identifying areas for development, adaptation and refinement.

This briefing is also available in Welsh.

Issue 8: Show Me the Money

Full unit cost estimates of service delivery

In our eighth Programme Insight, we consider the realistic costs of delivering high quality services for children and young people. We explore why realistic cost estimates are important, highlight the dangers of cost under-estimation and introduce the key concept of unit cost analysis.

The briefing also summarises key learning on cost estimation and implications for both delivery organisations and commissioners of children’s services.


Issue 9: Because I’m Worth It

Costs and Benefits of prevention and early intervention for reducing youth offending

Our ninth Programme Insight builds upon previous issues in which we considered outcomes and the impact of services delivered as part of Realising Ambition and the realistic costs of delivering high quality services for children and young people. To date we considered each been of these in isolation – something we urged caution about because one has a bearing on how the other may be interpreted.



Issue 10: An Ambition Realised?

Our learning

Rather than providing a lengthy evaluation report at the end of the five-year programme, this series has provided information about Realising Ambition in bite size chunks. This, the penultimate issue, summarises what we think are the key learning points from the programme.




Issue 11: ‘Wrong’ answers, right response

learning from randomised controlled trials when you don’t get the results you were hoping for

This, the eleventh issue, summarises what we think are the key learning points to have emerged from undertaking Randomised Controlled Trials within the programme.

This briefing is also available in Welsh


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