News & blog



Do we need a framework in a crisis?

Do we need a framework in a crisis?

Once upon a time in a world where tinned tomatoes and toilet rolls were abundant and hairdressers didn’t dress like welders, I spent a lot of time talking about the wonderful National Performance Framework (NPF).  But one thing we’ve learned through this crisis is that some things we used to think were important are totally not.

So do we need the National Performance Framework in the new normal?  Is it relevant to the recovery and renewal process? 

Absolutely!  In fact we need it now more than ever.

To be fair, neither Evaluation Support Scotland (ESS) nor the many third sector organisations we work made any mention of the NPF over the last few months.  However, stepping back I believe our response to the crisis has shown that the NPF, and its focus on wellbeing, is spot on.  The values of the NPF – kindness, dignity, respect – were crucial in lockdown.  The outcomes seem more relevant than ever.  And as we start to emerge from lockdown the indicators about health, inequalities, poverty and so on will give us crucial data about what lockdown has done to people and communities and what we need to work on.

In other words I think the NPF has stood up well to the “pandemic test”. 

But what really matters is to explore how the NPF might shape our responses in recovery and renewal.  My third sector colleagues are saying strongly that we must use learning from the crisis to create a “new normal” and not return to a system that didn’t wasn’t always achieving positive outcomes in the first place.

ESS is helping third sector organisations evaluate, reflect and learn from their crisis response.  What did they stop doing that they don’t want to go back to?  And what adaptations should they hold on to because they achieve better outcomes?  We’re working with SCVO and others to collate third sector impact and learning to shape the recovery.

All of us – third sector and public sector partners – must ensure our recovery response is not based on opinion or vested interests.  More than ever we must make evidence informed decisions and focus on outcomes.  The NPF is the map we must follow as we work our way out of the crisis.

Perhaps it’s weird that multicoloured flower might turn out to be one of our most important recovery tools.  But let’s dig it out, dust it down and use it as we rebuild Scotland into an even better future.


See our work with the Scottish Government:

Funder and funded relationships

We facilitate events and develop resources with funders and funded organisations. Our Principles for Positive Partnership work is about good relationships between the Scottish Government and its grantholders. This page features our work with the Scottish Government.