The College’s approach to evaluation and improvement is grounded in three central ideas:
- All young people need and deserve access to safe spaces, where they can build trusted and developmental relationships with other young people and adults;
- Youth practitioners can be trained and supported to create and maintain these safe spaces for young people, and to build on these foundations to create high quality social and emotional learning opportunities; and
- Meaningful evaluation is a core component of reflective and equitable practice, which in turn sits at the heart of informal and non-formal learning.
We believe that these ideas are applicable to all youth settings, and that if we use shared approaches based on these ideas, the sector will be able, over time, to develop a powerful and practical collective evidence base.
To put these ideas into practice, we believe we need a shared definition of social and emotional learning, and evaluation should focus on continuous improvement, supported by collecting ‘good data’.
Social and Emotional Learning
We have developed a precise definition of social and emotional learning (“SEL”), specifically for use by the youth sector, set out in detail in the Framework of Outcomes 2.0. This definition sets out six key SEL domains: responsibility, empathy, problem solving, initiative, teamwork and emotion management. Research indicates that, over time, young people who are supported to develop these skills will transfer these skills to one or more outcome areas in their lives: education, employment, health, family and community. All of the details about SEL domains, transfer outcomes, and the research behind them, are set out in the Outcomes Framework 2.0, developed by the College, with the support and endorsement of the Local Government Association.
A core aspect of meaningful evaluation in youth provision is a focus on the continuous improvement of quality practices that support young people’s social and emotional learning. Continuous improvement is a process that happens within a team, where you regularly look together at what’s working, and find ways to get even better at what you do. It involves establishing a cycle of planning your evaluation, gathering insights, and acting on those insights. We provide detailed guidance on how to go about establishing this cycle in our Resource Hub.
Any continuous improvement process requires good data from which you can generate insights, and take action. Planning an evaluation involves making very clear decisions about what data you need in order to learn and improve. This should include a range of different types of data, which will combine together to give you a good understanding of how provision or service is working. Visit our Resource Hub for guidance about what data you really need, as well as tools and resources to help you collect and understand that data.