Our Director of Programmes, Laura Bruce, introduces our new interactive Impact Hub .
Evaluation and evidence have been at the heart of the Sutton Trust’s work since our inception.
Whether it’s launching new initiatives on the basis of our research findings – our Pathways suite of programmes, for example, was inspired by an early iteration of Elitist Britain – to changing programme models in response to student feedback and evaluation insights; data has played a key role in big decisions and strategic changes at the Trust.
We believe that outreach programming must be underpinned by evidence and data to ensure that finite resources are spent in the best way possible and reach the students who need it most.
At the Sutton Trust, we want our impact and findings to be robust, and most importantly, independent. As such, we work with colleagues and experts across the sector to evaluate our programmes. This allows us to gain an external and objective perspective on our work, as well as the areas for improvement. Evaluation helps inform our next steps.
We look at a range of factors when assessing impact: our targeting, ensuring our programmes reach the students most in need; changes in attitudes, through analysing surveys; and changes in behaviour, through tracking student journeys into higher education and beyond. We also balance this quantitative approach with feedback and case studies from current students and alumni, alongside reports from our delivery partners on the impact of the programme.
Building a holistic picture of impact allows us to measure success in a number of different ways, not just simply by numbers. Sometimes an informed decision is a better outcome for a young person than an application to university. More often than not, the increased confidence and personal impact that students leave programmes with cannot be captured simply through a questionnaire or a data set. This is why we balance our quantitative work with qualitative research.
The launch of our Impact Hub today allows us to share some of our findings and data sets from the past 20 years in one place. Through the hub we highlight some of the key findings from our external evaluations and control group studies. For example, 93% of Sutton Trust students from the lowest socio-economic groups move to the highest after university. We also take a closer look at the targeting of our students by geographical region and constituency.
We hope this transparency will allow our partners and supporters to better understand the work of the Trust and engage with the impact that our programmes are having across the UK.
Having data alone and displaying it is not enough. Alongside our work on programme impact, we are also working to define our next strategy and how we may be able to extend the reach of the Sutton Trust to those who need it most. The data shared with you today is key to underpinning these decisions and is shaping our discussions on what we do next and where we do it.
Being able to understand who our target group are, what their needs are and the intersections between characteristics and social mobility factors will enable us to ensure any programmes or interventions we design meet the needs of our students. And crucially, that they have the impact that we so desperately need to improve social mobility across the UK.
Explore the Impact Hub here.