Over the past few years the Good Practice Team in the Wales Audit Office have held a series of seminars and webinars to support public service reform. Ena Lloyd and Bethan Smith look at our programme of events for this year.
The Wales Audit Office created the Good Practice Team to bring together ideas and approaches to help public services improve. When we first started out, we used to get some quizzical looks! I guess it’s not something you would naturally associate with an Audit Office. But then, not every Audit Office has an Auditor General who feels so passionate about wanting to help public services improve. Huw Vaughan Thomas is one of a kind. He gives us a ‘safe to fail’ space to research, engage, learn from others and share knowledge, ideas and approaches in a variety of ways. Whether it be a seminar, webinar, blog, videos, twitter, or good old emails!
You can’t help but want to go the extra mile when you are given such trust and space, and why wouldn’t you.
What we have learnt over the past few years, is our Good Practice mantra of:
- We don’t advocate a one size fits all approach;
- Equally we don’t believe in re-inventing the wheel;
- We believe in adapting not adopting; and using our very privileged position in the Wales Audit Office to bring together colleagues from right across the public, third sector and where appropriate the private sector.
How does the programme get pulled together?
We often get asked how we arrive at the topics in our programme. Our ‘starters for ten’ is our Wales Audit Office Strategic Plan in terms of our key priorities. So you won’t be surprised to see such topics as Digital, the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act and Early Closure of Local Government Accounts included as part of the programme. The topics also have to work across public services and where we can, work in partnership with at least one other organisation. The more partners, the better. We then take soundings from our internal colleagues as well as many people who represent, design and deliver public services in Wales. In fact, the list of people who we chat to virtually or face to face gets longer every year! We meet some great speakers and delegates who just totally blow us away in terms of what they are doing. If you have any ideas about topics you’d like to see in our programme, please do get in touch!
What’s this year’s programme about?
In this year’s programme, if there was one theme that underpins the majority of events, it’s the Wellbeing of the Future Generation Act.
Here’s the programme overview. We have used working titles to give you a flavour of what the seminar is about. However, once we have worked with partners to determine what the focus is, the finalised details can be found here.
The bottom line though, our litmus test so to speak, is what public services colleagues think. At the end of every seminar, we ask for 5 minutes of delegate’s time to complete a ‘Call to Action’ form. Over 1000 delegates attend our events over a period of a year, so it’s a rich source of feedback. We always stress how important it is to us for delegates to complete these forms, not only does it provide us with feedback on the event, but what actions delegates will be taking away and what they’d like to see taken forward by us or other organisations. The feedback we receive also helps shape our programme.
Our events are completely free of charge to all public and third sector organisations in Wales. All we ask in return is that you come to our events armed with ideas, solutions and any issues or challenges in relation to the topic of the event. Our events are called ‘shared learning seminars’ which speaks for itself – we really want delegates to share and learn as much as they can, and take away as much useful information from the event as possible.
For those that have been to our events before, I’m sure they’ll say it’s a packed morning, and we make no apology for that. Our events are purposely designed to equip delegates with as much information and contacts as possible, in order for them to continue conversations after the event.
Every year we seem to have an increasing demand on our events which is brilliant, it means public services are really keen to work together and share ideas and approaches. We have a small budget for our events and whilst they’re free to public services, it is so important to let us know if you can no longer attend before the day of the event as we often have a reserve list for events. We understand work pressures take priority but we’d really appreciate advance notice so we can re-allocate your place to someone else.
Other than events, how else do you share information?
We understand the importance of sharing information in a variety of ways. Whilst seminars might work for one person, videos or blogs work better for another person. With that in mind, our various information channels are listed below:
- Twitter: @GoodPracticeWAO
- Blog: goodpracticeexchange.wales
We share details of seminars/webinars on our website– so keep a look out for them – or if you want to us to add your details onto our mailing lists to receive info for all or some events, then please email firstname.lastname@example.org.