Research clearly shows that disadvantaged, lower-attaining pupils face a more complex transition away from secondary school and are at a high risk of not fulfilling their potential in the post-16 journey. What is less well researched and understood is the detail below that: how and why is this happening? And, most importantly, what factors can change this trajectory?
Rob Grylls is Head of Monitoring,
Evaluation and Research at Future Frontiers. In this 2-part article he sets out the organisation’s exciting and ambitious plans to monitor and evaluate the impact of our work with Year 10 and Year 11 pupils, and in so doing, to contribute valuable insights into the wider post-16 research landscape.
Our research and new strategy
Monitoring, Evaluation and Research has always been an important area of work at Future Frontiers. We have conducted external evaluation studies to assess the impact of our programmes, and more recently performed considerable research to inform the direction of our new five year strategy, Building Lasting Impact.
Our research has shown that disadvantaged young people are at a high risk of not fulfilling their potential in the post-16 journey, with lower-attaining pupils (those who do not achieve Grades 5 (C+) or above at GCSE) being particularly more likely to face a more complex transition away from their secondary school. We identified this as one of the root causes of inequality in the UK. As a result, we have already refocused our programmes to work exclusively on pupils’ transition into post-16 education and training, and have extended our support for young people across both Year 10 and Year 11.
Our ambitions around impact
"Our aim is to identify statistically significant evidence of impact from the programme against our long-term outcomes. "
Before launching our new strategy, the outcomes data we collected was short-term or small-scale in nature, primarily based on pupil surveys conducted before and after their coaching programme. Whilst this gave us some good insights into the difference our programme was making, we knew we had a long way to go to prove meaningful long term impact. Now, our aim is to identify statistically significant evidence of impact from the programme against our long term outcomes.
We are acutely aware of the high bar we have set, but have done so out of a laser-focused commitment to pupil outcomes. And as an organisation we are investing significantly in this area.
In our strategy we mapped five groups of outcomes for young people across the post-16 journey:
These outcomes were identified during our research into the specific areas where disadvantaged and low-attaining young people are consistently not achieving the same outcomes as their more advantaged peers, leading to poorer life outcomes.
The Monitoring, Evaluation and Research department will now focus on measuring the lasting impact of the Future Frontiers programme against these five outcomes.
"Getting these basic foundations in place is really important and will enable us to embed a culture of reflective practice."
In the immediate future we will focus on embedding monitoring systems and processes that will enable us to track the progress of students for three years after they complete their Future Frontiers programme. The data we gather will feed into both evaluation and research projects, and further programme design. Getting these basic foundations in place is really important and will enable us to embed a culture of reflective practice, so that meaningful connections can be formed between data, and programme design and development.
To be continued!
Look out for Part 2 of Our Journey Towards Measuring Meaningful Impact next week, when Rob sets out our plans for tracking long term outcomes, our collaborations with other agencies, and what excites him most about the road ahead.