Reflections from the EOI workshop – blog piece 1

“Change is difficult, but there is real will behind our ideas so change will come”

Last week at workshops in London and Leeds, we saw the coming together of ideas and proposals from local authorities, charities and enterprises wishing to take part in the Department for Education’s Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme.

The sessions were vibrant. Those attending had the opportunity to listen to and critique each other’s proposals, enabling them to learn from one another and challenge the rigour of their own ideas. Coaches were on hand to ensure that proposals are truly ambitious and innovative – that they address challenges and barriers shared across the sector, and offer high impact, sustainable ways to address them.  During the sessions, a number of types of proposals emerged, including:

  • New approaches to professional learning and other ways to support effective social work practice (including integration with and learning from other sectors)
  • Community led and community based approaches to supporting young people
  • Integrated multi-agency operating models
  • Consideration of physical space and where services are accessed and provided
  • Innovative funding models

During the workshops a number of common challenges to the proposals in the room arose that should be helpful to anyone developing an Expression of Interest:

  • Is your proposal informed by an understanding of a child’s social and emotional needs?
  • Is your project sustainable beyond the life and funding of the programme?
  • Is your project applicable to the system as a whole, is it scalable?
  • How will you measure and evaluate success?
  • Does the proposal represent real value for money?
  • Is your proposal deliverable? Have you approached potential partners and do you know what skill set you need in your team?

In addition, many participants spoke about the benefit of the Innovation Programme breaking down bureaucratic barriers. They were thankful for the help that the programme can provide to ‘knock on doors’ and open up projects to new audiences; a great way to ensure that projects will grow, scale and are sustainable over time. We’re keen to see projects ranging from initial problem analysis through to evidence-based practice ready to be scaled. The amount of funding available for each project will increase with its level of development.

Finally, it’s worth bearing in mind a question that cropped up on a number of different occasions – ‘what exactly do you mean by innovation?’ Successful innovation will involve substantial change in a practice or approach which leads to a step change in outcomes. We are not after invention (great ideas that stay in one place). Innovation is ultimately about changes to practices, products or services that have the potential to drive significant change at scale, to help reshape the whole system. We want to know what it will really take to make change happen – not just what feels possible at the moment. Don’t be afraid of the radical.

We are accepting Expression of Interest (EOI) submissions until noon on 19th September, and will assess proposals as soon as we receive them. Please do submit your EOI as soon as possible – your full proposal will get to investment board sooner and you will have longer to carry out the work. It will take three weeks to receive a response. If you have further queries you can call 020 7007 1449 or email