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Guidance for Local Evaluations


Implementing and Managing your Sure Start Local Programme Evaluation

Sure Start Programmes are required to evaluate their services in order to understand how well the Sure Start services are performing, keep track of progress in meeting the objectives and targets and make changes to the programme as a result of the local evaluation findings. This document is intended as a useful guide for planning, implementing and managing evaluation activities for Sure Start Local Programmes. It addresses key points of evaluation planning and methodology and gives detailed guidance on how to go about selecting an external evaluator. It replaces the previous NESS guidance, Getting Started with a Local Sure Start Programme Evaluation.
Implementing and Managing your Sure Start Local Programme Evaluation


Conducting Ethical Research

There are many processes involved in planning local evaluations. In addition to choosing a strategy and developing ways to collect information, in the earliest stages of planning your evaluation you will need to consider the ethical aspects of what is being proposed. This guidance outlines the ethical issues which need to be considered when undertaking research, especially when it involves families and children.
Conducting Ethical Research.


Evaluating Cost-Effectiveness

The Sure Start Unit's guidance to programmes about local evaluations says they must conduct an evaluation of cost-effectiveness at a local level. Many local evaluators have little experience of looking at cost-effectiveness and are unsure where to start and what to do. The National Evaluation team have produced a guide on how to do it to help programmes and evaluators in this position. Programmes do not have to follow the guide, and the National Evaluation does not need any input from local evaluations on cost-effectiveness (although we will be interested to see them).

However, if you do follow the guidance, you will have done what you need to do to satisfy the Sure Start Unit's requirements.
Guidance on Local Cost-Effectiveness.
Presentation to accompany the written guidance.


Local Evaluation Guidance - Sure Start Unit

Local Programmes are required to conduct their own local evaluations so they can: understand how well their services are performing; keep track of progress in meeting the objectives and targets for Sure Start; and make changes to their programme as a result of evaluation findings.

This document sets out the Sure Start Unit requirements of local evaluation and describes the complementary aims and objectives of the national evaluation.
Guidance on Local Evaluation - Sure Start Unit.


Conducting User Satisfaction Surveys

One of the basic aims of Sure Start is the provision of services that parents and children will want to use. And finding out if they are using them will be one way of knowing if local Sure Start Programmes are getting it right. The Sure Start Guidance asks Programmes to report on the proportion of parents (with children under 5) who are very satisfied, satisfied, dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with services for young children. 'Conducting User Satisfaction Surveys' will help you to plan, conduct and report on a local satisfaction survey.
Conducting User Satisfaction Surveys.


Involving Parents and Carers in Local Evaluations

One important way to involve parents, grandparents and other carers in your Sure Start programme is to develop ways that they can be involved in local evaluation activity. This guidance aims to address the issue of how programmes can effectively enable parents, carers and other family members to participate in local evaluation. In doing so, it draws on examples from work already being undertaken in Sure Start local programme evaluations. It begins by considering the reasons for involving parents and carers in local Sure Start evaluations and the different models of participation that are available. The guidance then goes on to explore the ethical and practical issues that need to be worked through. Practical advice is also offered in relation to these issues. Finally a list of additional resources is given.
Involving Parents and Carers Guidance document


Exploring the Field of Listening to and Consulting with Young Children

Sure Start Unit Guidance on local evaluation highlights the importance of obtaining user views. In addition to collecting feedback from parents and carers, many Sure Start programmes have been keen to think about how to consult with children. This DfES research report, produced by the Thomas Coram Research Unit, provides a comprehensive review of existing research and practice relating to listening to and consulting with young children. It includes many examples of good practice, including work in other European countries.
Exploring the Field of Listening to and Consulting with Young Children document


Using Existing Data in Sure Start Local programme evaluations

This guidance is designed to help programme managers, programme staff and evaluators to consider ways in which existing data can be used in local evaluations. Existing data provide additional information to the programme to assist in the decision making process. They also add context to the work that the programme is undertaking and it can be used to assess the impact that Sure Start Local Programme Services are having on their populations. The guidance also seeks to provide some practical advice in working with partner organisations to access the relevant data they hold. Incorporating existing data into the local evaluation has many benefits for the programme and the evaluation.
Using Existing Data in Sure Start Local programme evaluations


Sharing Evaluation Findings: Disseminating the Evidence

Local Programmes need to develop effective strategies to disseminate the findings of evaluations. This guidance offers some information in tailoring dissemination for different audiences and includes guidance on report writing, newsletters, briefings and other innovative dissemination methods. Making sure that evaluation results reach their intended audiences so the they can influence and support decision making ensures that the practice of the programme is usefully shared.
Sharing Evaluation Findings: Disseminating the Evidence


Qualitative Research Methods

Programme evaluations should seek to use a wide range of methods to capture the outcome and performance of their activities. This guidance illustrates some of the ways qualitative methods can be used in conjunction with other methods or as a stand alone means of enquiry. The guidance covers some of the more usual methods of data collection and analysis and also examines the scope for innovation.
Qualitative Research Methods


Measuring Outcomes: Guidance on Outcome Evaluation for Sure Start Local Programmes

This guidance focuses on the rationale and methods to measure the outcomes from SSLP services and activities. Outcomes have the power to answer the question What difference is this programme making?' or 'What difference is one particular service making?
Measuring Outcomes: Guidance on Outcome Evaluation for SSLPs


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