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Supporting children and young people's wellbeing
Supporting children and young people's wellbeing

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7 Making a difference

This course considers the kinds of practice that might make a difference to children and young people’s wellbeing as well as how we can evaluate whether any difference has been made. In this next activity you will look at the ways in which practices can be evaluated.

Activity 7 Evaluating practice: why and how?

Timing: Allow about 1 hour and 30 minutes

Task 1

At this point, think about what to evaluate and how by answering the following two questions.

  1. Why might it be important to know whether practice is having an impact on children and young people’s wellbeing? Try to think of at least two different examples.
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  1. Taking the example of a family centre such as Hedgerows, what would you try to evaluate and how? Again, try to think of at least two different examples.
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Discussion

It might seem obvious that we want to know if practice is having an impact on children and young people’s wellbeing, but there are several perspectives on this, including to:

  • improve practice (some approaches could be dropped and others enhanced if it was apparent which ones were effective in their impact)
  • demonstrate that services are fulfilling their main purpose
  • demonstrate that a service is providing value for money – whoever is providing the money may want evidence of what impact it is really having.

In the remainder of this activity you’ll consider what a family centre such as Hedgerows might evaluate in terms of its practice.

Task 2

Listen to Tina talking about evaluating services, and note what she says about the need for the centre to demonstrate its effectiveness. As you watch, focus on the different measures they use at Hedgerows to evaluate impact.

Download this video clip.Video player: Tina Price talks about evaluating practice
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Tina Price talks about evaluating practice
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Task 3

Now use Table 2 below to note down the different measures used at Hedgerows to evaluate impact for both adults and children. You should be able to identify at least four areas of evaluation.

Table 2 Impact measures at Hedgerows
What is Hedgerows trying to evaluate?How is Hedgerows measuring this?
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To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
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Discussion

The completed table below shows some examples, although you may have identified others:

Table 2 Impact measures at Hedgerows (completed)
What is Hedgerows trying to evaluate?How is Hedgerows measuring this?
The impact of the services at Hedgerows on the local community

Numbers using the centre and accessing different sessions

Levels of engagement with ‘priority’ groups

Whether it is helping achieve change with individual familiesUsing an assessment tool (‘Family Star’) and individual action plan
Whether Hedgerows is helping children prepare for the transition to school effectively (school readiness)Data from schools about success at end of foundation year
Whether it is making a difference to children’s health

Health data, including dental decay and obesity measures

Enhanced healthy eating and lifestyle

Whether it is improving the ability of adult family members to secure employmentNumbers securing employment
Whether it is enabling adults to engage with educational opportunitiesNumbers signed up to courses

Tina mentions many different types of measures here including more anecdotal examples of making a difference – such as social networks helping with a mental health issue - which she sees as important in enhancing the wellbeing of the whole family but which are more difficult to demonstrate explicitly.