Evaluating and reviewing the impact of programmes and policies.

Using evaluation and theories of change as a core function rather than an add on.

National Youth Dance Company 10-year evaluation

National Youth Dance Company (NYDC) recruits a cohort of young, talented dancers each year along with a guest artistic director to produce and tour a piece of contemporary dance. Since 2016, Shared Intelligence has worked with NYDC to evaluate the company, with a particular focus on each annual cohort. Along with understanding the impact of NYDC on its cohort of dancers, we have helped NYDC develop a theory of change to explain what works, in what circumstances, and why. In 2023 Si worked with NYDC to produce a 10-year evaluation report, highlighting the main impacts and successes of the programme over the last decade, providing evidence and insight to enable NYDC to plan their next decade.

These evaluations are a good example of Si’s approach of integrating evaluation and learning into programme development. We are able to help clients understand the lived experience of participants, beneficiaries, and stakeholders and use that insight to inform action and programme development. In the case of NYDC, this has enabled them to identify important aspects of their programme design – for example, the huge confidence boost that the dancers receive from performing on Sadler’s mainstage. It has also helped identify the most important pieces of evidence for their long-term sustainability – that nine out of ten NYDC young people who join NYDC go on to some form of work or training in dance or the performing arts.

LGA economic inactivity

In 2023, Shared Intelligence was commissioned by the Local Government Association to produce a study into national and place-based approaches to addressing economic inactivity.

National approaches

Our research into national approaches in addressing economic inactivity aimed to understand the breadth of provision available and what types of support were being offered. It also aimed to understand the extent to which this provision was ‘joined up’.

Here, we found 51 initiatives led by 17 different public bodies or organisations. However, the majority of these programmes did not have a specific focus on addressing economic inactivity, rather impacting it indirectly. For example, the Adult Education Budget was included as delivering education and training reduces economic inactivity by providing people with the necessary skills to join the workforce.

The research found that national provision represented a ‘patchwork’ and did not have a joined up approach to addressing economic inactivity. Furthermore, national approaches appear to have limitations in terms of engaging those who need support.

Place-based approaches

Our research into place-based approaches also aimed to identify the breadth and types of provision available locally, but also involved stakeholder engagement to find insights into what had been successful in delivering economic inactivity support at a local level. This was delivered in the form of two ‘deep dives’ into local areas, namely the North of Tyne Combined Authority area, and North East Essex. Each ‘deep dive’ involved a roundtable discussion with local partners, including local government, health representatives and the voluntary sector.

The core principles for success in addressing economic inactivity include: linking employment support to other front-line services such as health and housing; providing support at a visible community location; taking time one-on-one with individuals to understand their barriers to employment; and using mainstream, rather than purely project-based, funding to deliver support.

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