MORNING KEYNOTE Turning data into actionable insight to help improve outcomes
There is a wealth of primary data about children’s outcomes gathered for government agencies on children’s outcomes such as educational attainment, physical and mental health, and access to leisure activities. The data is often unwieldy and the analysis time consuming, making it inaccessible for most small organisations. By partnering with research institutes to undertake secondary data analysis - which could, for example, identify the socio-economic background of families with similar outcomes - organisations working with children and families can get a more comprehensive picture of trends that can help improve provision, strengthen funding bids and enhance campaigning. The session will explore: • the primary datasets that exist and who will fund secondary data analysis of them
• the potential of secondary data analysis and how it can improve outcomes
• partnerships with research institutes with examples from NatCen’s work
There are many ways in which inequalities, racism and discrimination play out in research and evaluation, whether through the power dynamics of funding and commissioning, in research design, engagement, analysis or dissemination. Dartington Service Design Lab is working through these challenges to embed anti-discriminatory approaches. The session will explore:
• how these challenges are raised and addressed, and what lessons have been learned • the ways in which racism and discrimination can manifest
• progress on achieving equitable and anti-racist research and evaluation
Doing youth-led evaluation well and the pitfalls of tokenism
Involving young people in the design and delivery of research and evaluation is often paid lip service but takes careful consideration to get right. When done well it can ensure young people take a leading role in shaping evaluation of services and help interventions deliver better outcomes. If done badly, it can demoralise young people and leave the organisation open to criticism of tokensim. The session will explore: • benefits of co-production in research projects and the pitfalls of bad practice • key principles underpinning youth-led evaluation and how to apply them • examples of good co-production practice from the recent #iwill Fund
1A EARLY YEARS: Making more of data in early education
Analysing data can shape early years services and practice but it is often overlooked by the sector. This session explains why this is a missed opportunity, citing data from the first year of the revised Early Years Foundation Stage Profile and how this is revealing trends about children’s developmental needs.
1B YOUTH WORK: Does formal evaluation get in the way of good youth work?
Research by Kings College London found that formal evaluation and monitoring practices were rarely effective in gaining an accurate understanding of the importance of youth work for young people. Instead, they risked reinforcing negative stereotypes about young people and shifting evaluations towards short-term targeted projects that are easier to measure at the expense of open-access youth provision. The session explores the research findings and how evaluations can be adapted to capture the outcomes that young people prioritise.
Senior Lecturer in the Sociology of Youth and Childhood
1C SOCIAL WORK: Delivering RCTs effectively in children’s social care
Randomised controlled trials (RCT) are the gold standard in research and produce the strongest evidence to underpin developments in practice. However, culture and cost have been among the barriers to running RCTs in children’s services. Despite these challenges, charity Coram has recently completed successful RCTs on Family Group Conferencing and Life Story Work. The session sets out the core components of the evaluations and how they were delivered successfully.
AFTERNOON KEYNOTE: Evaluation in children’s social care – one year on from the Care Review
A parliamentary inquiry highlighted how the use of evaluation is not fully embedded in the children’s social care sector, which is holding back work to develop evidence-based approaches to services and practice. It is a theme identified in the Care Review, which proposes the creation of a National Data and Technology Taskforce to support improvement in the collection, sharing and use of data to inform decisions. This session will explore:
• the aspects of evaluation in children's social care that need improving
• findings from the Care Review on the quality of evidence and proposals for change
• existing sector initiatives to improve the use of evidence and impact data
What Works for Early Intervention and Children’s Social Care
BREAKOUT SESSIONS (choose 2A, 2B or 2C)
2A SOFT OUTCOMES: Using storytelling to measure impact
Sporting Communities CIC run detached youth work services in a deprived area of Derbyshire. For the past 12 years, it has developed ‘an armoury of tools’ to measure softer outcomes, which are used by staff to capture impact, including recording people’s stories. These highlight ‘where the story of change starts to emerge’ and act as a repository of evidence to demonstrate the impact of support over time - in a way that cannot be measured through data or numbers.
2B PUPIL PREMIUM: Bang for your buck: getting the most from Pupil Premium
The Education Endowment Foundation has developed a suite of resources for educators on what evidence-based interventions work best to address pupils’ specific education needs. Educators can use the resources when making decisions about how to spend their Pupil Premium budgets for children from disadvantaged families, many of whom saw the attainment gap grow during the pandemic.
2C MEASURING IMPACT: Putting a monetary value on the impact of your service
Family Rights Group evaluated the impact of its advice line in improving understanding of parents’ rights, the law and social workers’ role – both at the point of delivery and six months later. It was done in conjunction with New Philanthropy Capital, which developed a cost/benefit framework that put a monetary saving on the value of the advice.
A group approach to evaluation - the benefits of multi-site trials
The Youth Endowment Fund (YEF) is a 10-year Home Office funded programme investigating what works to prevent children’s involvement in violence. One way it is building this knowledge is by investing in multi-site trials – a form of impact evaluation that evaluates a common practice such as mentoring across multiple locations and/or organisations. The YEF believes multi-site trials could be used to identify consistent elements of practice that can be widely adopted if found to be effective and help smaller organisations take part in large evaluation projects at a fraction of the cost. The session will explore: • emerging findings from the trials undertaken by YEF • challenges in delivering multi-site trials and how these can be overcome • benefits for smaller organisations working with children and young people