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.
Defining success in replicating effective services for children and young people
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!
How to create a richer evidential tapestry
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.
The iterative nature of service improvement and the generation of evidence
In 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.
Routine outcome monitoring to support service improvement efforts
In 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.
How organisational strength supports replication
In 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.
Doing randomised controlled trials in the real world
We draw on our own reflections on the three Realising Ambition RCTs and those of Chance UK, Malachi and Ariel, the delivery organisations whose respective interventions are being evaluated. We highlight the challenges encountered and how we and the respective organisations sought to address them. In doing so, we present lessons for funders, researchers and intervention developers and providers.
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.
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.