In our education system, we do a huge amount to make a difference. Schools invest nearly £4 billion a year in different forms of educational support, and teachers report spending an average of 33 hours a week outside of teaching to prepare, plan and mark in order to make the biggest impact in their lessons.
Whether it’s after-school clubs, behaviour mentoring or academic tutoring, programmes of any kind can have a positive, negligible or negative impact on pupils’ lives – and it is not always easy to say what these are. It is often extremely challenging for schools to reliably assess the outcomes of interventions in their setting: only 3% of schools that interviewed by ImpactEd were confident in their impact evaluation. In addition, our current education is data and evidence obsessed, but not in the right places.
ImpactEd believe that teachers and pupils are ill-served with the current system:
- Evidence from The Sutton Trust suggests that the majority of pupils and teachers value life skills above academic grades, but there is a lack of meaningful UK evidence as to how these skills can be best developed in school contexts
- Our education system is full of data and accountability, but our current focus on evidence of ‘what works’ ignores those actually changing lives day in and day out – the professional judgement and wisdom of teachers themselves
This means that we don’t know whether many programmes have a positive, negligible or negative impact on pupils’ lives, and teachers themselves are often not empowered to focus their efforts in the most effective ways possible. ImpactEd call this problem the evaluation deficit.
ImpactEd is a not-for-profit organisation that exists to improve pupil outcomes and life chances by addressing this evaluation deficit. They work across the education sector, aiming to help schools and education organisations develop a better understanding of what is making the biggest difference, and prioritise what benefits pupils most accordingly.
They do this through a combination of hands-on partnership, working with practitioners to better identify the change they want to see and how they can understand success, and a digital platform that aims to make impact measurement quicker, easier and more effective. By enabling partners that would otherwise not be able to easily evaluate the impact of what they are putting in place, ImpactEd makes it possible for time-poor teachers, school leaders and those at the front line of making change do so as effectively as possible.
ImpactEd’s model is built on an academic evidence base around some of the most important predictors of long-term life outcomes for young people, and their partnership process aims not just to help practitioners better evaluate particular initiatives, but to build school and organisational cultures that are laser-focused on how they can achieve maximum impact for children.
Only 3% of schools that interviewed by impacted were confident in their impact evaluation
Work in action
ImpactEd’s combination of a hands-on partnership process and digital technology aims to develop capability and capacity to improve life outcomes for young people, while providing a route to ultimately changing the conversation about how schools use evidence and sharing insights across the education system.
Their partnership process supports schools and education organisations to be more precise about what they’re aiming to achieve, identify ways in which they might assess outcomes beyond the academic alone, and ultimately make sense of and use the data they may collect.
Simultaneously, their digital platform:
- Guides teachers through an intuitive process to select appropriate pupils for support
- Provides access to high-quality evaluation measures for both academic attainment and a range of skills related to learning such as meta-cognition, motivation, self-efficacy and grit
- Generates live impact reports showing the effects of programmes in context, enabling schools and organisations to develop the evidence base for what makes the biggest difference in their settings, and using these insights to inform provision
Their work so far has included collaborations with large national school groups such as United Learning, Academies Enterprise Trust and Challenge Partners, and a range of university and third sector partners including SOAS, Jamie’s Farm and Whole Education. Having reached over 20,000 pupils even in their initial piloting, their focus now is on continuing to develop, refine and grow their model to ultimately achieve maximum system impact.
The Big Changers
Owen Carter – Co-Founder and Managing Director
Owen Carter has led the development of ImpactEd since inception. He combines a passion for education and social justice with deep experience working collaboratively with schools. Prior to ImpactEd, he led a number of research and evaluation projects at education charity The Brilliant Club, and developed a digital platform for teacher professional development at Optimus Education. He’s a winner of the Teach First Innovation Award and part of PwC’s Tomorrow’s Business Leaders programme.
ImpactEd stemmed from Owen’s personal frustrations in seeing amazing programmes often not sustained due to a lack of appropriate evidence around effectiveness, while at the same time, money and energy was frequently invested in provision that may well have been genuinely detrimental to young people’s life chances.