Marianna Lemus, Research and Evaluation Manager at Young Enterprise, explains how they're taking a flexible, but common approach to evaluating their Centres of Excellence using the MAS Financial Capability Evaluation Toolkit.
Young Enterprise is the UK’s leading charity that empowers young people to harness their personal and business skills. We joined the Money Advice Service (MAS) Children and Young People financial capability evaluation cohort with the objective of producing a clear and practical evaluation plan for our Centre of Excellence Programme (CoE). This is a school-based programme, working with teachers and senior school staff who deliver financial education.
Although Young Enterprise was collecting data, it was a challenge to define outcomes to all the centres taking part. This is because the work Young Enterprise does with each school is tailored to their unique circumstances. The task, therefore, was to identify a practical ‘one-size fits all’ outcomes’ model, which also allowed some flexibility. Young Enterprise had already started work on this, but saw the opportunity to progress it further, as part of the MAS cohort.
Commissioned by MAS, the support from the Social Innovation Partnership (TSIP) started with a session on theory of change. This gave all our programme staff the chance to exchange their views on what the CoE programme’s ultimate aim should be. Not only did this session help us define key outcomes and activities, it also levelled the playing field in terms of our team’s knowledge and understanding about theories of change; and helped us to reinforce internally the importance of impact measurement.
Out of the initial session, we ran a diagnosis check – mapping our existing data collection tools against the outcomes and activities defined in the theory of change. As a result, we were able to streamline our monitoring and evaluation activities to those directly supporting the outcomes defined in the theory of change, and contributing to our knowledge of ‘what works’.
Using MAS’ learning and sharing, and evaluation plans’ template, we produced clear documents and guidelines to map every identified outcome against those in MAS’ financial capability teachers’ outcomes framework. This, in turn, empowered us to streamline our evaluation process even further, and ensure its relevance to a wider audience.
Finally, the clarity we gained through creating the theory of change for the programme highlighted the importance of certain activities and processes in delivering outcomes that contributed to the longer-term impact on young people’s financial capability (for example, teachers and practitioners long-term experience), and we designed an evaluation plan that captured both programme- and process-led outcomes.
What next for Young Enterprise
Young Enterprise launched its new suite of CoE evaluation tools in December 2016 and is currently in the testing phase. Feedback indicates that the data collection process has become easier and much clearer – ensuring that only essential data is collected and saving staff’s time.
In terms of evaluating the data we’re gathering, it’s still early. This is a long-term programme, with two main touch-points – first, when the (practitioner/centre) submits their portfolio and second, 18 months after the successful accreditation process. Based on this, we will begin to analyse the impact of our new tools and the data secured formally from January 2018.