As 2020 draws to a close, Policy Scotland reflects on the challenges and achievements of the last 12 months. We also look ahead to 2021 and the anticipated focus on recovery and rebuilding following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Review of 2020
Our last face-to-face event brought 100 teachers and educational leaders to Glasgow in February for the Empowerment, Equity and Excellence: Where next for Scottish education? conference.
Then in lockdown Policy Scotland rapidly pivoted to an online programme to enable the speedy sharing of experiences, knowledge and solutions to the urgent public policy issues arising from the pandemic.
Facilitating COVID-19 rapid response research
As well as our own research, we’ve published and shared the work of colleagues from the University of Glasgow and other institutions focused on education, communities, welfare, the economy, housing, and more.
You can see all the contributions under our COVID-19 work themes:
- Community resilience and addressing disadvantage
- City economies
- Education, children and families
- Housing and infrastructure
And we were very pleased to enable our three student interns to continue to work with us over the summer to provide valued support for the COVID-19 programme.
Professor Anton Muscatelli, Principal of the University of Glasgow, reflects on Policy Scotland’s contribution to to Glasgow’s civic university role.
Supporting practice and policymaking
We set up new networks to bring together practitioners, policymakers and researchers to inform and analyse COVID responses:
- More Different Futures Network – bringing together housing policy professionals in the UK, Canada and Australia for a series of seminars.
- Crisis Response in Education Network – reimagining the approach of school inspections
- University of Glasgow’s Third Sector Knowledge Exchange Collaborative – improving the sustainability of Glasgow’s third sector in collaboration with the Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector.
“Policy Scotland have excelled in their communications in the COVID pandemic, reaching many more users and in particular international users. Their role is supporting policy making and academic policy interchange is really useful.”Professor Sally Wyke, Deputy Director, Institute of Health and Wellbeing / Interdisciplinary Research Professor and Dean for Research, College of Social Sciences, University of Glasgow
We’ve reached decision-makers at different levels, through:
- Professor Chris Chapman, Policy Scotland Director, sitting on the Scottish Government’s coronavirus advisory group on education and children’s issues.
- Working collaboratively with many agencies in Glasgow, including Glasgow City Council, the Glasgow Economic Recovery Group, and the Social Recovery Taskforce.
- Providing evidence to UK and Scottish parliamentary committees in relation to the impact of COVID on economic and welfare issues.
We’ve continued our public engagement focus through high profile and well-attended events including:
- ESRC Festival of Social Science: Radical Policy Rethinking after COVID-19
- A Conversation with Hilary Benn MP, Chair of the Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union in the House of Commons, on Brexit and what it means for Britain’s future.
- Scotland in a post-Brexit and post-pandemic world – Public lecture and Q&A with Michael Russell MSP, Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, Europe and External Affairs
“Policy Scotland has made a particularly strong contribution to public policy thinking. The circumstances of the year, dominated for governments around the world by the coronavirus crisis and its economic and social consequences, have given greater impact than ever to Policy Scotland’s core approach of using contemporary policy relevance as a key criterion for setting priorities within its broader mission of enhancing the quality of public policy by improving the way in which the outputs of current academic research and analysis is fed into public policy debate, including the policy work of governments.
The similarities in the public policy challenges created by the coronavirus crisis across many countries has enabled Policy Scotland to broaden engagement to include discussions engaging senior figures in Australia and Canada as well as across the UK and within Scotland. This has been in addition to continuing close engagement with governments within Scotland, at both central and local level, on education policy and on the future economic performance of both Scotland as a whole and of cities and their surrounding areas.”Sir John Elvidge, Chair of the Policy Scotland Governance Board
2021: Focus on fair and sustainable recovery
Policy Scotland will continue to analyse the impact of COVID-19 and contribute to policy conversations on how to move forward to a create a more equal and inclusive Scotland.
Sir John Elvidge said: “Looking to the future, these extensions of the close, policy-influencing relationships which Policy Scotland has generated and participated in as key contributors, create a broader basis for demonstrating the value of integrating the expertise of both the academic and government professional communities. The clear likelihood that the process of economic and social recovery from the coronavirus crisis, as well as the need to integrate into that longer running public policy concerns about reducing inequalities and achieving sustainability, will involve common challenges for governments in various parts of the world suggests that the breadth of engagement established by Policy Scotland will enable it to generate an even greater contribution to the quality of public policy in this overriding priority for governments in the years immediately ahead.”
We’ll be building on a recent collaborative project with the David Hume Institute on the question of ‘place’ in public policy and we’ll continue to work closely with Glasgow City Council, the Glasgow Economic Recovery Group and the Social Recovery Taskforce to support the city’s economic and social recovery.
Developing a just transition to carbon neutrality/net zero targets will be a huge issue in 2021 as Glasgow prepares to host the global climate change conference COP26. We’re proud to be part of the Green Recovery Dialogues, working with the Centre for Sustainable Solutions and Glasgow City Council, to explore pratical solutions to generate a just and sustainable recovery from COVID-19 for Glasgow and work to achieve carbon neutrality/net zero targets for 2030 for the city and the University.
These are just a few examples of the projects we’ve been working on this year, and which will underpin our plans for next year. If you’d like to have a chat about a potential collaboration in 2021, we’d love to hear from you.