First for regeneration
Evaluation Lessons - Excluded kids can rise to challenge
Friday, 20 May 2005
Project: Working it Out pilot study.
Period of evaluation: April-November 2003.
Evaluating Organisation: The New Economics Foundation (NEF).
Evaluation commissioned by: Tomorrow's People and the Tower Hamlets
Pupil Referral Unit.
Aims and outline of project: The project helps 15 to 16-year-olds who have been permanently excluded from the education system break the link between exclusion and crime. Participants are given career advice, drug support, and guidance on personal goal-setting and group challenges to secure employment or continue in education. The project also aims to develop participants' self-worth by helping them identify and achieve personal goals in the context of the wider community. Scope of evaluation report: To conduct an independent evaluation of Working it Out, assessing its quality and effectiveness and the social and financial impact on the wider community.
Adam Fineberg writes: The Working it Out project has given excluded young people greater confidence and higher aspirations, according to the NEF evaluation. Some projects for young people tend to focus more on how the scheme is delivered, rather than on the specific context and circumstances of those they are trying to help. Working it Out has not made this mistake.
Young people's charity Tomorrow's People and Tower Hamlets Pupil Referral Unit both have long experience of working with teenagers in challenging environments, and this is borne out in this evaluation report.
Although there is no such thing as a 'one size fits all' approach to an issue as complex as social exclusion, I strongly recommend that others working in the field look closely at Working it Out.
The report poses the key question: was this pilot successful in enabling permanently excluded young people to recognise their potential and fulfil their aspirations? Exposure to the project undoubtedly assisted in their 'inclusion' into the mainstream economy and society. Only one of the 15 participants that registered for Working it Out dropped out of the programme. Of the remaining 14, six had criminal convictions and only three had any educational qualifications.
Despite this, by the end of the project, participants showed a much improved self-awareness of their personal qualities and skills, as well as a greater recognition of their value to others.
The NEF's approach to evaluation is also worthy of note. In a general context where evaluation reports too often appear to miss the finer points, the NEF provides a refreshing look at the 'stories' of the young people involved, as well as the social impact of the project.
- Adam Fineberg is an independent policy and regeneration consultant and author of 'Growth Coalitions'.
- The Working it Out pilot study evaluation is available on www.regen.net/doc
Contact us. Do you know of an evaluation report with important lessons for other regeneration professionals? If so, contact Shafik Meghji on email@example.com.
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