Research and Publications

We produce a small number of independent research pieces or publications each year, which are listed below. This is in addition to our programme and project-specific publications which can be found on the relevant pages within our Products and Services sections.

If you are interested in finding out more about our research services, visit our research services page

The Impacts of COVID-19: An Overview of the Research to Date

This report provides an overview of research published exploring the potential and forecast impact of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak and public health response, including the lockdown that was brought into force in March. In particular, the research focuses on the economic impact of the pandemic and restrictions, the implications for poverty, and summarises the situation in a range of international settings with focus on any lessons for Scotland.

This report was initially produced on the 20 April 2020 and will be kept up to date with new research as this is published and the situation evolves.

Early Learning and Childcare Expansion Delivery Progress (December 2019)

The Scottish Government and local government are committed to increasing funded early learning and childcare entitlement to 1140 hours per year from August 2020 for all 3 and 4-year-olds and for eligible 2-year-olds. To provide assurance on implementation of this commitment, the ELC Joint Delivery Board is working with the Improvement Service and Scottish Futures Trust to collect data on the progress of the delivery of the expansion programmes across councils. This report summarises the progress of the ELC Expansion at the end of September 2019.

Instrumental Music Services: Results from the IMS Survey 2019

The Instrumental Music Survey gathers information on all local authority provided Instrumental Music Services in Scotland. This is the seventh successive year where the survey has been conducted, and includes information on tuition charges, concession policies, pupil numbers, selection procedures, additional activities, costs of services, and instructor numbers. The 2019 report also features research on the benefits to pupils through participation in Instrumental Music Services.

Download the summary tables

Early Learning and Childcare Expansion Delivery Progress (September 2019)

The Scottish Government and local government are committed to increasing funded early learning and childcare entitlement to 1140 hours per year from August 2020 for all 3 and 4-year-olds and for eligible 2-year-olds. To provide assurance on implementation of this commitment, the ELC Joint Delivery Board is working with the Improvement Service and Scottish Futures Trust to collect data on the progress of the delivery of the expansion programmes across councils. This report provides data and analysis for the period up to August 2019.

A preliminary report on potential funding models and delivery approaches which could be used to allocate the levy funding devolved to the Scottish Government for debt advice

The purpose of this preliminary report is to explore potential funding model options for how the Scottish Government might best utilise the debt levy funding that has recently been devolved to it in order to obtain maximum impact and added value. Whilst acknowledging the multiple benefits offered by public access to advice services, how the levy funding is used requires to take account of the current context in which these services exist - both in terms of the complexity of the sector and the constraints under which it is operating.

Early Learning and Childcare Expansion Delivery Progress (December 2018)

The Scottish Government and local government are committed to increasing funded early learning and childcare entitlement to 1140 hours per year from August 2020 for all 3 and 4-year-olds and for eligible 2-year-olds. The expansion is a cornerstone in helping every child to fulfil their potential and to close the poverty-related attainment gap. To provide assurance on implementation of this commitment, the ELC Joint Delivery Board is working with the Improvement Service and Scottish Futures Trust to collect data on the progress of the delivery of the expansion programmes across councils. This report provides data and analysis for the period 1 May 2018 to 30 September 2018.

Instrumental Music Services: Results from the IMS Survey 2018

The National Instrumental Music Survey was first introduced in 2013 to share information regarding the provision of local authority-led Instrumental Music Services in Scotland. This is the sixth consecutive year of the annual survey which includes information on tuition fees, concession rates, instrument hire and loan procedures, pupil numbers, costs of services, instructor numbers, and additional activities.

Download the summary tables.

COSLA’s Children and Young People Board has agreed policy in relation to Instrumental Music Services and, together with the Scottish Government and Music Education and Partnership Group, developed accompanying guidance that councils may wish to consider when reviewing their charging policies. COSLA’s report on this can be found on the COSLA website.

Scotland's Councillors 2017-2022

This report details the findings of a survey of councillors elected in 2017 and explores how councillors compare with the Scottish population. The purpose of this survey was to develop a better understanding of Scotland’s current councillors. The survey examined the demographic profile of councillors, such as their age, gender and ethnicity but also looked at questions relating particularly to the councillor role, for example additional employment status, how councillor duties are managed and why councillors chose to stand at the election.

Projected Cost Pressures for Scottish Local Government

This analysis was carried out by the Improvement Service with the assistance of COSLA, Directors of Finance, and SOLACE. The paper explores how demographic trends and inflation are likely to affect local authority expenditure over the period to 2021.

Instrumental Music Services: Results from the IMS Survey 2017

The National Instrumental Music Survey was first introduced in 2013 to share information regarding the provision of local authority-led Instrumental Music Services in Scotland. This is the fifth consecutive year of the annual survey which includes information on tuition fees, concession rates, instrument hire and loan procedures, pupil numbers, costs of services, instructor numbers, and additional activities.

Download the summary tables.

Talent Management in Public Services in Scotland

This research by the Improvement Service, Edinburgh Napier University Business School and

the University of the West of Scotland’s School of Business and Enterprise aimed to establish the current nature and status of talent management across Scotland’s public services. The report identifies a number of implications for practice and proposes some recommendations as to how these could be addressed.

practitioner report is also available to accompany this research.

Instrumental Music Services: Results from the IMS Survey 2016

This report documents the results from the 2016 Instrumental Music Survey.  This is the fourth consecutive year of this national survey and reports on the provision of local authority led Instrumental Music Services in Scotland.  Information available includes: tuition fees, concession rates, instrument hire/loan policies, pupil numbers, costs of services and revenue, instructor numbers, and additional activities.

Download the summary tables

Place-based Approaches to Joint Planning, Resourcing and Delivery: an overview of current practice in Scotland

This research looks at the current landscape of place-based approaches to joint planning, resourcing and delivery across Scotland’s local authority areas. It is based on literature review and interviews with 27 local authorities in Scotland.

1000 Communities

This study seeks to address patterns of inequalities across Scotland over the past ten years. The key results indicate that inequalities between neighbourhoods in Scotland are persistent over time, and reinforce the multiple nature of positive and negative life outcomes. This calls into question the success of previous policies which sought to reduce such inequality and the ability of public services to meet demands equally across society. The results also highlight the value of employment and income-generating programmes within Scotland’s most deprived areas.

Research Team