Open access collaborations

We work collaboratively on a range of partnership programmes that aim to innovate excellent practice and build capacity across the social care sector.

While each programme has a different focus – all aim to increase the use of evidence-informed, emotionally intelligent and systemic approaches.

We're strongly committed to sharing these learning approaches widely. We have made learning from these innovation projects open and free to access to enable all practitioners, researchers and people with lived experience of social care and the allied sectors of health, justice and education to access them.

This is an ever-expanding area of our learning resources, and we continue to welcome approaches from all sectors to increase the use of evidence-led practice. Programmes include:

Maximising impact and instigating change

Research in Practice work on a number of Change Projects that bring together experts from both practice and academic backgrounds. The projects explore research, practice and lived experience to develop new solutions, approaches and resources that lead to better practice outcomes. Recent and current Change Projects include:

Families and Homes: Change Project

Holistic, integrated, whole-family support shows ever greater value when working with families who have overlapping social care and housing needs.

The Families and Homes Change Project brought together academics, leaders and practitioners from housing, children and families and adults social care, and people with lived experience of the issues, to formulate responses, solutions and tools to support better alignment and joint working between housing and social care services.

The group developed new resources including a strategic briefing, practice tool and podcast, to support joint working across these statutory services. These resources seek to:

  • Help improve knowledge about the intersection of families’ housing and social care needs.
  • Facilitate a deeper understanding about how each sector works.
  • Enhance professional confidence and curiosity.
  • Support greater legal literacy across services.
  • Empower professionals to develop and enhance effective inter-organisational collaboration in this area thereby improving connectivity in the system.

Rethinking domestic abuse in child protection

‘If we can support people to think and do differently in this space, we should see a reduction of the pressure on child protection systems. We should see families feeling respected and supported, women and men feeling supported in a different way and ultimately, that should mean children, women and families are less likely to live the consequences of domestic abuse and violence.’ 

Professor Kate Morris

The term domestic abuse encompasses a range of controlling and coercive behaviours, used by one person to maintain control over another with whom they have, or have had, an intimate or family relationship. Rethinking domestic abuse in child protection: responding differently (R-DAC) is a collaborative project, funded by Nuffield. The project runs from March 2022 until March 2024 and has three aims:

  • To address gaps in our knowledge on the nature and characteristics of domestic abuse and violence in child protection situations.
  • To examine the relationship between Domestic Abuse, Violence, Child Protection responses and intersectional inequalities, determining how these shape experiences and outcomes.
  • To co- produce frameworks, in partnership with families and practitioners, to support new approaches in policy and practice.

Research and evaluation services

Research in Practice played an integral and important part as our research and evaluation partner. Helping the partnership dig deeper and consider the impact we were making by listening to the experience and feedback from a broad range of frontline practitioners, managers and strategic leaders. In turn this helped keep the programme on track by confirming where good progress was being made as well as highlight where we needed to bring additional focus.

 The Children’s Service Director for Partnership and Innovation  

We are a leading research and evaluation provider in Children’s and Adults Services, supporting providers to understand the impact that their services are having. Our evidence-informed approach is central to research and evaluation, and we weave research evidence, professional expertise and the views of those with lived experience throughout our evaluations.

Our evaluations this year have included working with organisations that aim to integrate children and families services, support parents at risk of having their baby removed at birth, and aim to have no more victims of sexual abuse by supporting perpetrators to reduce the risk of reoffending.

We have worked with commissioners to complete single and multi-year evaluation projects that have included longitudinal qualitative interviews and focus groups. Quantitative surveys and monitoring data have also been used to ensure an accurate and balanced perspective as part of robust mixed methods evaluations. Interim reports have informed learning and final reports and presentations of key findings have been produced to summarise overall evaluation findings and recommendations.

Practice Supervisor Development Programme

The Practice Supervisor Development Programme (PSDP), funded by the Department for Education (DfE), came to a close after four successful years on 31 August 2022. During the final year the consortium (including The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, Goldsmith University of London and the University of Sussex, supported by Local Delivery Partners and led by Research in Practice), continued to deliver high quality continuing professional development (CPD) to practice supervisors and middle leaders.

Following the very positive experience and feedback from their practice supervisors who were able to attend the PSDP, one of our Partners recognised the benefits and impact of the PSDP and commissioned a total of  10 cohorts between 2020 and 2023. This enabled all practice supervisors, middle and senior leaders to access the learning and embed reflective supervision practices across their organisation leading to system change.  Subsequently the learning was extended to their Youth Offending Team. Feedback from the Director of Practice is:

'I have seen the difference that PSDP has made to how our team manager’s practice. I had no doubt that we had a team of managers with varying experience of supervising staff, however I observed a lack of confidence in some of our staff. Also, I know that our managers have not always had the tools to do their jobs confidently. Alongside a number of improvements that we have made, such as a more stable workforce, a stronger learning and development offer, a clear practice model and a vision which completely focuses on the needs of children and their families; PSDP has been able to provide the much needed ‘wrap around’ support for our managers.Not only has PSDP provided our staff with a framework for understanding their roles and responsibilities as leaders; it has focussed very much on how they also need to feel supported by the organisation; I can see that this is resulting in first line managers who are able to demonstrate an increased level of resilience and confidence. Ultimately the Trust Executive want all of our workforce to be part of an environment where everyone feels supported to do the best job that they can. PSDP has provided us with the mechanism for doing just that.'

Director of Practice

During the final year of the programme, the consortium delivered 30 six-day cohorts to practice supervisors and 13 three-day programmes to middle leaders – over 700 practice supervisors and managers took part and a total of over 2000 throughout the four years. The programme also held nine regional events, plus a live interactive conference inviting past participants to reflect, build on and celebrate their learning.

Several new resources including films, CPD guides and practice tools supporting key supervision topics such as inclusion, leadership, lived experience and emotional resilience were developed and are available on the PSDP website. The impact and value of the programme are demonstrated within the feedback and local authorities who have commissioned additional deliveries to those colleagues who were not able to participate in the mainstream programme.  

Principal Social Workers networks

We are delighted to continue to support the Principal Social Workers (PSW) Network.

We work closely with the network Chairs and co-chairs to provide administrative support, host events and ensure communications reach PSW network members through regular bulletins and social media posts. Our PSW Network microsite shares news, views and relevant guidance within the network. Additionally, we have launched a dedicated Teams channel, allowing for greater communication between PSWs.

As a network and as individuals working at organisational, regional and national levels, PSWs hold unique and vital insights into the demands the profession faces, and the hands-on expertise on leading practice, even in the most challenging times.

Social Work Organisational Resilience Diagnostic

The Social Work Organisational Resilience Diagnostic aims to help leaders and managers create the conditions that enable workers to sustain and develop resilience.

The SWORD workbook offers targeted, evidence-informed tasks and strategies to support organisational improvements and develop conditions to better support social care worker wellbeing. The workbook is used following an initial SWORD diagnostic survey to explore staff wellbeing. The SWORD survey and workbook can be used across the whole social work and broader social care profession.  

In 2022, 16 organisations participated across the Spring and Autumn SWORD surveys, with 1,147 respondents in total.

SWORD has been co-produced with the Research in Practice Partner network in a project led by Dr Louise Grant, University of Bedfordshire, and Professor Gail Kinman, Birkbeck University. 

Tackling Child Exploitation Support Programme

The Tackling Child Exploitation (TCE) support programme, funded by the Department for Education (DfE), came to a close after four years on 31 March 2023. During the final year the consortium (including consortium partners The Children’s Society and the University of Bedfordshire, led by Research in Practice), undertook various focus groups in order to inform and develop a set of multi-agency Practice Principles designed to support effective partnership working across different local contexts; providing a common language and framework to better respond to child exploitation and extra-familial harm.

The Practice Principles were launched alongside ten successful and well attended regional events in March. TCE also published six accompanying resources which can all be found on the TCE website. The resources include an animation, research summary, reflection tools for both practice and partnerships, a booklet and poster focussed on respecting the voice, experience and expertise of children and young people and a resource that supports approaching parents and carers as partners.

‘The TCE principles provide clear and streamlined guidelines for all those who work both directly and indirectly with children, young people, and their families, within different roles and across various sectors. They provide a much-needed safeguard against the deficit discourse which can all too often occur when supporting those who are victims of child exploitation.’ 

Fiona Fearon, policy and projects manager, National Governance Association


If you have any questions or comments please contact us for further details and we will get back to you as soon as possible.