Working with social value and wider outcomes

Background

Community learning plays a vital role in delivering both direct and wider social benefits for learners, their families and communities.As mainstream public funding becomes an ever smaller proportion of the resource that supports learning in communities, it is critical that community learning providers have effective approaches in place which enable them not only to identify and achieve the outcomes that matter, and but also to capture robust evidence to demonstrate the wider outcomes and social value of their work. Developing the skills, knowledge and understanding across the sector to articulate the wider impact of community learning is key to organisational planning and quality improvement, as well as to the development of new strategic and delivery partnerships and the opening up of new funding opportunities.

Strengthening its focus on wider outcomes and social value positions community learning at the heart of localist policies to tackle disadvantage and social exclusion. Whilst this is increasingly understood to be useful practice in the current funding climate, the Public Services Social Value Act (2012) reinforces the potential advantages to providers of generating robust evidence of wider impact. Under the Act, public sector bodies, such as Local Authorities, can consider ‘social value’ as a scoring criterion when tendering for services. This means contracts could potentially be won or lost on this basis. Similarly, in their commissioning role, some adult learning providers have an opportunity to significantly enhance their grant and sub-contracting arrangements by incorporating ‘social value’ under the terms of the Act.

Ourworkshop provided practical, tailored training for community learning providers on impact measurement and wider social outcomes. Drawing on the latest approaches to impact measurement in learning and skills, the training equipped participants with the ~”building blocks~” of knowledge, understanding and skills to develop this work in their own organisation. We have developed an innovative suite of generic tools and resources to support learning providers to understand and approach social value and impact measurement. Workshop participantsbecame familiar with these tools and how to use, apply and adapt them to meet the specific needs of their own context.

Aims

NIACE’sworkshop enabled participants to integrate practical approaches to demonstrating social value and wider outcomes into their work.

Objectives

The workshop:

  • Raised awareness among participants of the policy drivers behind impact measurement and social value in community learning.
  • Show how impact measurement relates to and supports key agendas for community learning providers including funding sustainability, quality improvement, employability, community engagement, local accountability and learner voice.
  • Introduced participants to key concepts and approaches in impact measurement and social value, including methods and tools to assist with identifying, planning, evidencing and reporting wider social outcomes.
  • Enabled participants to share experiences and learning from other providers.
  • Provided practical opportunities for participants to begin applying to their own work, a range of tools that have been developed and rigorously tested to support work with wider outcomes in the community learning sector.
  • Signposted participants to more in-depth methodologies for measuring social value and sources of further support.