Realising Ambition Programme Insights: Issue 7

Published: February 2017 Publication Type: Publication

Commissioning possible: Meeting the challenges of evidence-based commissioning. 

The Realising Ambition consortium, of which The Young Foundation is a part, are producing a series of 12 Programme Insights rather than writing a long evaluation report at the end of the five-year programme.

Realising Ambition is delighted to announce the launch of its seventh Programme Insight, one of a series of short briefings sharing key learning from the programme.

This briefing builds on previous Insights which explore topics ranging from the value of replication to the trials and tribulations of conducting randomised controlled trials.

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.

Key learning points include:

  • The principles of good commissioning are being applied by an increasing number of commissioners, but too many decisions are based on price.
  • There has been some movement towards commissioners assessing the evidence-base of services and indicators of organisational strength, however this is patchy.
  • Evidence should be used to improve a service or an organisation, not just prove it works.
  • Building strong relationships between commissioners and service providers is critical, but this takes time.
  • The Realising Ambition Confidence Framework is a dynamic tool that can help commissioners to assess the strengths of an organisation and the effectiveness of its service.
  • The Framework can also help to identify areas for refinement and adaptation of organisations and services.

About Realising Ambition and our Programme Insights series:
Realising Ambition is a £25m Big Lottery Fund programme supporting 22 organisations across the UK to replicate services aimed at preventing youth offending. Our Insights are designed to support anyone undertaking or commissioning services with a focus on replication and evidence.

Join the conversation

Do you agree with the need to take a broader, more nuanced view of evidence? Share your view. Tweet us using #RealisingAmbition or email us to share your thoughts. @BigLotteryFund would also like you to tweet your thoughts on the programme, diverting young people from pathways into offending and funding socially responsible services.

For further information please visit our Realising Ambition project page.

Realising Ambition

Young people (image credit: Catch 22)


The Young Foundation was proud to have been a member of the consortium appointed to manage Realising Ambition, a £25 mi ... Find out more