Tower Hamlets Business Education Partnership joined the Money Advice Service (MAS) CYP financial capability evaluation cohort, after presenting Abacus, our pilot family financial literacy project, at the Financial Education Forum.
We focus on improving children and young people’s employability in Tower Hamlets, linking business volunteers with schools to deliver interventions. Historically, we’ve had reams of positive feedback, but not yet cracked an outcomes-based approach to evaluation. By being part of the MAS cohort, supported by The Social Innovation Partnership (TSIP), we have been able to develop a small pocket of best practice that we hope to cascade to other projects.
Where to start?
Abacus is a series of financial literacy workshops run concurrently for parents and children, funded by the Lloyd’s Community Programme to run in three Year 5 cohorts in three Tower Hamlets primary schools this academic year.
Alongside our delivery partner Quaker Social Action, we began by thinking long and hard about our ultimate goals while drafting our Theory of Change, extrapolating from what feels like an innovative model that should work. This included challenging whether an organisation concerned with employability should focus on children’s financial capability? After some painful rewrites, the answer was a resounding yes!
The MAS evaluation toolkit made the rest of the process relatively straightforward. MAS’ outcomes framework is a bank of tried and tested (‘valid’ and ‘reliable’ in evaluation speak) quantitative survey questions linked to outcomes, categorised by age group. Like online shopping, you select the questions you want and export them to your ‘basket.’
Working with our funder and TSIP, I designed online, age-appropriate pre/post surveys using these questions. I also added an open-ended qualitative question and some facilitated activities to cover an outcome – ‘increased curiosity about money’ – not covered by the framework.
Fascinating and rewarding insight
So far, we have collected baseline data from two cohorts (120 children) and end-line data from one cohort in progress, generating some fascinating insights. For example, from the baseline survey, we found that:
49% of children receive pocket money, and 95% receive some form of money
Only one pupil said s/he did not ever save.
Most pupils (89%) understood that adults get their money from working, while 37% mentioned government benefits, and 22% had misconceptions about adults getting money from ‘pocket money’ or ‘going to the shops.’
27% answered a basic maths problem about the best value of items wrong
It’s been challenging designing and delivering the intervention, alongside the evaluation. And when analysing the data I’ll need to assess whether inconclusive results show shortcomings in our intervention or in our evaluation tools. But this approach is already enabling us to adapt our project delivery in real-time based on what we’re learning.
Being part of this supported community of like-minded organisations has improved both our evaluation practices and the quality of our project. If you’re starting out on your financial capability evaluation journey, I’d say ‘take baby steps’ towards best practice, and hopefully you might even enjoy the ride.