6. Perceived impacts for delivery partners
- Key strengths of the Get into Summer funding approach, from the perspective of delivery partners, included: its flexibility, which allowed partners to be creative with their offers; the support provided around marketing; and the positive impact of programme overall for staff morale.
- The short lead-in time for planning Get into Summer was the main challenge for partners, impacting on staff workloads and recruitment, communications, and marketing.
- Other challenges included managing bookings and demand effectively, and challenges relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions.
- Partnership working was identified as both a key strength and a positive impact of Get into Summer, with numerous examples provided of new and enhanced partnerships being developed. The main barrier to extending partnerships further was the short lead-in time, combined in some cases with local procurement rules.
- Get into Summer funding and activities had left a legacy for partners in terms of: experience of new approaches and delivery models; resources and tools; staffing; and learning and inspiration about what works and what is possible.
The penultimate chapter of this report explores the perceived impacts for those involved in the planning and delivery of the Get into Summer offer, at local and national level, drawing primarily on data from the monitoring reports and interviews with local and national partners. A number of the key outcomes for partners have already been discussed in earlier chapters – for example, chapter 2 discussed the ways in which the funding enabled partners to offer new activities, or enhance existing activities, while chapter 3 discussed the extent to which funding was seen to have extended the reach of activities to a wider range of groups, and learning around barriers for those groups in accessing services. This chapter therefore focuses particularly on more direct impacts for providers, such as impacts on partnership working. It begins with a discussion of the wider aspects of the Get into Summer model and approach that were seen to have worked more or less well, from the perspective of those involved in planning and delivering activities.
Strengths and challenges of the Get into Summer approach
There was a clear perception across Get into Summer partners that Scottish Government funding had given them an impetus to plan a more ambitious summer programme than they might have been considering, given both resource limitations and ongoing concerns about COVID-19 risks and compliance. The degree of freedom the Scottish Government afforded to partners to use the funding allocated to them in a flexible and creative way was widely viewed as a key strength. Partners reported that this flexibility had enabled them to make decisions based on local needs, and to meet the specific needs of families without being constrained by overly prescriptive central requirements. As one national partner put it:
"It really allowed a bit of blue-sky thinking (…) It's hard to overstate the difference it made. We were able to be ambitious"
(Interview, national partner 10)
This flexibility, along with the generous amount of funding provided by the Scottish Government, had facilitated partners in offering a much wider range and choice of activities than would typically have been possible, as discussed in Chapter 2, and enabled them to target funding specifically on trying to remove barriers to participation.
The support the Scottish Government offered partners, not only in terms of funding but also around facilitating networking between local authorities, and central marketing support was appreciated. The marketing toolkit, YoungScot portal, and #GetintoSummer hashtag were all mentioned as elements that had been helpful in making partners' jobs easier in planning and delivering Get into Summer at speed.
Finally, although the planning and delivery of Get into Summer was seen as demanding a lot of staff (as discussed below), partners also reported the positive impact on staff of being able to deliver positive outcomes for children and families, particularly after a hard year of dealing with the pandemic and its consequences:
"It was great to be able to do things for people… the pictures of families and young people were great for our mental well-being."
(Interview, local authority 12)
The main challenge reported by Get into Summer delivery partners was the short lead-in time. The unique circumstances of 2021 and the uncertainties about what would be possible given the COVID-19 pandemic meant that Get into Summer funding was made available to partners much closer to the summer holidays than would ideally have been the case. While partners rose to the challenge of planning or re-planning activities in a short timeframe, almost every monitoring report reviewed for this evaluation mentioned the short lead-in time as the main challenge experienced with the programme. This short notice had numerous other impacts, including:
- Creating additional pressures on staff, many of whom were already more tired than usual after dealing with the pandemic. It was commented that this was having knock-on impacts for planning for subsequent holiday provision, as staff were in need of a break:
"Across the board there was significant pressure, I'm starting to see the cracks in my workforce now."
(Interview, local authority 20)
- Challenges around recruiting additional sessional staff or partners to assist with delivery, both because people were already booked up for the summer, and because procurement processes made it very difficult to bring in additional resource in time. There were examples of innovation in the recruitment of delivery staff, such as using HNC students who had missed out on practical experience due to COVID-19. However, recruiting staff with more specialist skills and experience to work with certain groups, particularly with children and young people with disabilities or other ASN, had proved challenging for some partners within the timescales (with implications for inclusion, as discussed in Chapter 3). One view was that recruiting specialist staff to support children with ASN was likely to remain a challenge for future holiday provision, even with more notice, since those with the required experience (such as staff working in pupil support roles) would not always be able or willing to work during the school holidays.
- Impacts on communications and marketing. Partners felt they needed to give more notice to schools to effectively identify and refer children, particularly those in the target groups. As discussed in Chapter 2, partners felt that having more time would also have supported more effective involvement of children and families in contributing to planning and designing activities.
There was some evidence that those local authority partners that were able to tap into established planning groups / networks found it easier to respond to the short time frame, although the view that the timing had been a challenge was nonetheless widely shared, even among these partners.
Other than the short time frame for planning Get into Summer, the other main operational challenge discussed by partners was managing bookings and demand (systems for which were determined locally and varied between partners). In particular, partners reported issues with families booking but then not turning up – an issue that is often reported when activities are provided free of charge. One view was that, in future, partners might need to adopt a booking system that requires confirmation of attendance 24 hours in advance, while another suggestion was a returnable deposit scheme (though this might act as a barrier to some families, including potentially many of the target families). A number of partners felt that they needed to improve their booking systems more generally to better manage administration and demand for activities – this may be an area for further sharing of resources, learning and practice between partners.
The Scottish Government provided partners with guidance on COVID-19 safe delivery. However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions had presented some challenges to delivering activities. Direct impacts included limitations on capacity for transport, and restrictions on available venues, where some had been 'mothballed' during lockdown and needed deep cleaning before re-opening. Indirect impacts included perceived nervousness among some families about attending activities (as reported by providers – this did not appear to be a major issue for families interviewed for this evaluation).
Finally, although not a major theme, there was some discussion in the monitoring reports and partner interviews about the appropriate balance between targeted and universal provision over the summer holidays. On the one hand, there appeared to be a perception that in some areas activities had been particularly focused on the target groups this year, limiting resources that might have been available for mainstream activity offers. On the other hand, as discussed in Chapter 3, the monitoring reports and interviews also indicate varying success across partners in reaching the different target groups the Scottish Government prioritised in Get into Summer, with partners noting groups they would like to do more to reach in future.
Another point in relation to targeting was a perception in one local authority that Get into Summer activity discount codes had been too widely advertised and shared via social media. It was suggested that this may have resulted in some targeted children missing out because spaces had been taken up by others who were not the intended priority for the scheme. Although this was again not a major theme, the question of how to balance extending the reach of these types of activities to target groups, with ensuring an appropriate level universal provision, is likely to remain an important discussion point in the planning of future holiday activities across Scotland.
Impact on working between partners
Partnership working was identified as both a key strength of and a major positive impact from Get into Summer. There were numerous examples of new partnerships being formed to support the planning and delivery of activities, particularly between local authorities and the third sector (including youth clubs, sports clubs, food networks, community hubs and clubs, art clubs, sport clubs, etc.), but also between local authorities and the private sector (such as supermarkets or local restaurants), and other parts of the public sector (for example, involving ASN school staff in delivery over the summer for the first time). National partners also identified both new and enhanced partnerships, both in terms of working with new partners to deliver activities and forming or strengthening links with referral partners in the public and third sectors.
The importance of existing partnerships in enabling the planning, scaling up and delivery of Get into Summer activities was also highlighted. However, there was a strong view that Get into Summer had acted as a stimulus for partners to widen their partnerships and 'go beyond the usual suspects', to plan and deliver a much wider range of holiday activities than would normally be the case. The quote below illustrates how the funding had helped facilitate partnership working that might otherwise have been more difficult to achieve:
"The way funding works they're quite often competing [for] similar pots of money and that means that sometimes with the best will in the world collaboration can be quite tricky to do … And this wasn't like that, like there was space for us all … and that I think people found really, really refreshing and it has undoubtedly nurtured really positive relationships between the organisations."
(Interview, national partner 1)
As noted above, however, although there were numerous examples of new partnerships being established, the short lead-in time, combined in some cases with local procurement rules, had acted as a barrier to expanding partnerships for some local authority and national delivery partners. It was also noted that some third sector organisations with whom local authorities might have partnered had only just re-started their services after COVID-19 this year. There was a hope and expectation that more new partners could be involved in delivering holiday activities the future, if funding were to be made available with a longer-lead in.
Partners described different ways in which they had approached and promoted partnership working in the delivery of Get into Summer, including:
- Setting up small grant schemes for local charities and community organisations to apply to access Get into Summer funding for eligible summer holiday provision – a number of local authorities reported on how this had proved an effective mechanism for expanding partnerships and diversity of provision.
"I would say normally would have about ten, 11 organisations apply for our scheme, to get 56 applications. There were organisations I had never ever heard of came in, and that was great, really great, to meet some new organisations and see what they were doing and get some more involved."
(Interview, local authority 11)
- Identifying specific partners who could help them better reach specific target groups, such as children with disabilities and ASN, children from particular minority ethnic groups, young people with care experience, and young carers. These partnerships were described as leading to a "better understand the barriers a number of CYP and families experience. The learning is shaping future delivery of provision" (local authority 13)
- Sharing resources between partners – for example, sharing activity packs
- Involving partners in planning in a more formal way, through strategic coordinating groups.
Partners interviewed for this evaluation discussed their hope that many of these partnerships will be sustained in the longer-term in delivering provision for children and families. To an extent, sustainability was viewed as contingent on funding ("As long as there's funding, we'll engage with them" – local authority 2). However, there were also concrete examples of partnerships that were already carrying forward from Get into Summer, some of which are discussed in the following section.
Case study 6.1: Improved joint working and legacy of partnerships
A working group, formed of established partners across the council, health and leisure services, and the local third sector, supported planning this local authority's Get into Summer offer. A core element of their offer was delivered via a small grants scheme, which was widely advertised to council services, public agencies and the third sector. 43 projects were funded, expanding the local authority's partnerships to new organisations while building on their existing strong local networks:
"… because we had been doing this in the past, we already had a network of organisations who could do this stuff. We expanded that massively, but we already had those connections".
Applications to the grants scheme were scored on how well the proposal met the needs of the Scottish Government's target groups. As a result, the local authority reported being able to offer activities for most of the target groups and provide a wide range of experiences for children and families.
"Within the small grants funded projects, the range of programmes and activities delivered was incredibly diverse, and included outdoor games and learning, day trips, cycling and the arts. This offered abundant learning opportunities for those taking part, and there were fantastic examples of how some of the programmes would deliver a legacy beyond the summer, with those involved developing soft skills…as well as hard skills."
Strong existing relationships between families and partner organisations were seen as having helped with signposting of families to further support services, highlighting another way in which expanding partnerships may have benefited children, young people and families:
"The high levels of engagement and the trust between those organising activities and families also allowed many people to be linked up with other appropriate support."
Legacy for delivery partners
Planning and delivery partners interviewed for this evaluation were clear that significant resources would be required to be able to offer activities on the same scale again. However, interviews and monitoring reports also identified various ways in which the Get into Summer programme had left a legacy behind for providers and their partners to build on. Elements of this legacy may contribute to sustaining some of the new activities, networks and resources established over the summer in the longer-term (as envisaged in a number of the longer-term outcomes for the scheme).
Partners gave examples of the legacy of Get into Summer in terms of: learning and inspiration; activities and models of delivery; resources and tools; and staffing.
Learning and inspiration
The logic model for Get into Summer identifies better understanding of barriers to accessing services and how to overcome those as a longer-term outcome for the scheme. Partner interviews and monitoring reports indicate that providers and partners felt they had indeed become better informed, both about the level of need in their communities, and about how best to support different types of families, as a result of the experience of delivering get into summer.
"Definitely we had partners tell us that they had no awareness of the level of need in their community, that they're used to providing a service for fee-paying families and never looking outside of who walks inside of their door, and very clearly said that that opened their eyes to the level of need […] The partners in our community that didn't know this need existed want to be able to support that need"."
(Interview, local authority 5)
Partners also commented on the ways in which they felt the funding had inspired themselves and others to be more creative in their approach to holiday and out-of-school provision. One provider described the learning from Get into Summer as "the art of the possible", inspiring them to think more widely about what can be done and to take learning from the examples of what worked well with particular communities and clients into future provision. In this respect, Get into Summer appears to have served as a catalyst for experimentation, creative thinking, and learning about 'what works' to extend the reach and impact of holiday provision.
Activities and delivery models
A number of partners that had been able to experiment with new activities or delivery models as a result of Get into Summer also described how they had then been able to extend these activities or models beyond the summer period. For example, a school that had been able to employ a wellbeing coach to work with parents over the summer, after identifying what a challenging time many of them were having, was able to extend this support by facilitating an ongoing parents group with input from the same coach. Another partner reported how involving students who were training to be coaches in the delivery of summer activities had prompted them to incorporate more direct delivery of coaching to local children as part of the course, helping to sustain both this partnership and the ongoing delivery of sports activities beyond the summer. Again, this highlights the ways in which learning from the innovation enabled by the additional funding provided through Get into Summer is being carried forward into thinking about ongoing and future delivery.
Resources and tools
Get into Summer funding had helped partners develop, purchase or share both lasting physical resources, and tools to help support children and families, that could be used beyond the summer. Examples included:
- The creation of new digital and printed resources for engaging families, which can be re-used in the future and adapted and expanded for other schemes
- Purchasing of new play resources
- Tools for engaging with and supporting young people around mental health – the two national partners with a specific focus on mental health had both introduced tools and resources to support discussions about mental health with their delivery partners over the summer. Both reported that these were now embedded with these partner organisations, who planned to continue using them – contributing directly to the longer-term aim of increasing knowledge of how to promote and support mental wellbeing (as outlined in the logic model).
There were also examples where Get into Summer was seen as having contributed to improving internal resources, such as booking systems.
Staffing for the summer programme was, as reported above, a challenge for some partners. However, there were also examples where the partnerships forged over the summer had led to partners either recruiting and retaining new permanent staff members, or expanding their bank of sessional staff to support future holiday provision (indicating earlier planning for sustainable future provision as a legacy from Get into Summer).
"So, the positives for that are that we actually were able to recruit temporary staff that actually we retained. Our booking system totally evolved, we were able to keep the resources that we purchase and spread them out across our existing projects."
(Interview, national partner 4)
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