Measuring the impact of our courses

Our Imapct2By Emma Ferris, Head of Impact Evaluation

This year, the Evaluation team have been busy with a wide variety of projects to measure and evaluate what effect The Trust's courses have on young people's lives. It's our job to question whether our courses are effective, by gathering evidence that demonstrates a change in participants' skills, abilities and behaviour, not just immediately after a course, but also in the months that follow. 

We also believe it's important to look for insights that could help us to improve the quality of our courses, so that we're sure we're delivering the best quality courses tailored to meet young people's needs. 

Whatever the course or project, we look for evidence that our participants have improved their skills during their course, but, perhaps more importantly, whether this has had an effect back in their 'normal' environment.  For instance, when we evaluate our education courses, we might look for evidence that pupils are more likely to tackle challenges in their schoolwork, or more able to listen in class and support their peers with their learning. And when we evaluate an apprentice course, we look to see where and how the apprentices are applying their learning. How they interact and communicate with colleagues or customers, or take responsibility for their career development. 

We use data from questionnaires and interviews from teachers, line managers, or parents, as well as the participants themselves, to understand what has changed. 



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One evaluation we're excited to start this year, is our new Skills for Life Award course.  It's been designed to help young people aged 15-19 make and maintain a positive transition from full-time education into FE, HE, training or employment.  This is important because research shows, despite having high aspirations for their future, many young people fear they don't have the skills and qualifications to succeed in interviews, to either get onto the college or the university course they want, or to secure in a particular job. 

There are also many who leave school with no clear plan for what they want to do with their lives.  This means that they are likely to take longer to find work, run the risk of choosing a course or a job that is not aligned to their skills and interests, or drop out of university completely.  For instance, more than 26,000 undergraduates didn't make it into the second year of their university course in 2011.

The Skills for Life Award course is designed to tackle this problem by enabling participants to develop skills and qualities that will stand them in better stead to thrive in new and uncertain environments. Where demand for independent thinking and learning increases, they take on more responsibility for their career choices and progression.  Through the evaluation, we'll be measuring changes in the participants' skills and qualities, both during the course and in the months that follow.  Most importantly, we'll be looking at whether there's an effect on the participants' education and career choices and on their ability to succeed – indeed thrive – during their transition into adulthood.

For more information about our Impact and Evaluation - click here.