Two new terms: 'scaffolding' and 're-scaffolding'

Please note: This page is still in the midst of being written.  Here we have an initial draft text.

This page aims to explore firstly the concept of 'scaffolding', as first introduced to PIElink readers in Coral Westaway's article, 'Developing best practice in Psychologically Informed Environments', and secondly, the notion of 're-scaffolding' - a way to describe the paradigm shift in commissioning and management of services as outlined in  'A Whole New World  –  Funding and Commissioning in Complexity', jointly produced by Collaborate and Newcastle University document.

The term 're-scaffolding' deliberately aims to connect these two key facets of the PIE approach - connecting the user-facing work and the system-facing work of services.

Scaffolding in the world of construction is defined (cf Wikipedia) as ‘a temporary structure used to support a work crew and materials to aid in the construction, maintenance and repair of buildings, bridges and all other man made structures.’

In the world of education, however, ‘instructional scaffolding’ means the provision of sufficient supports to promote learning when concepts and skills are being first introduced to students, to enable learners perform a task at a level beyond their present competence:

“These supports are gradually removed as students develop autonomous learning strategies, thus promoting their own skills and knowledge. Teachers help the students master a task or a concept by providing support.”

You can listen to several podcasts discussing these issues:“The relational nature of hope; and ‘scaffolding‘” and 'Holding the hope: scaffolding for staff, and what we can learn here for PIEs development"' extends the idea of scaffolding to take in the role of senior staff and management in supporting the work of the staff in services for people with complex needs and exclusion histories.

Exclusion-informed psychology“, another podcast excerpt from the same conversation, which begins to suggest the the possibility of an equally significant shift in the approach taken in psychology research, where methodologies in the past have assumed frameworks of 'best evidence' that may have unwittingly excluded those with the more complex needs.

For other comments on NPM and PIEs, see also the pages here on  The earlier roots and wider context of the PIEs concept;

For research questions, see the On evaluation page here;

See also a useful video on conducting  person-centred research;

See also an article from 2012,  "Do complex needs need ‘complex needs’ services?" which argues that the needlessly narrow research paradigm for evidence-based practice has contributed to the marginalisation of those with complex needs.  

Further reading

 Developing best practice in Psychologically Informed Environments, by Coral Westaway, Lizette Nolte and Rachel Brown

 'A Whole New World  –  Funding and Commissioning in Complexity, jointly produced by Anabel Davidson-Knight and colleagues for Collaborate and Newcastle University.

The earlier roots and wider context of the PIEs concept; (a PIElink page)

Do complex needs need ‘complex needs’ services? by Robin Johnson

Manageable chunks of time, by Graham Gardner



The relational nature of hope; and ‘scaffolding‘”  Coral Westaway and Lizette Nolte, interview with Robin Johnson

Exclusion-informed psychology“Coral Westaway and Lizette Nolte, interview with Robin Johnson

"Holding the hope" Coral Westaway and Lizette Nolte, interview with Robin Johnson

Up mountains; recovery and manageable challenges  (an extract from a recent BBC Radio 4 “Call you and yours’ programme) 

How The Big Issue works (an interview with CEO Steve Robertson  - one of our ‘Golden Oldies’)