Evidence and data collection for education start-ups

This guide is for people setting up new projects in the education sector. It offers step-by-step advice on what evidence and data to collect, and how to collect it. It is based on NPC’s experience of supporting around 40 organisations through the Young Foundation’s Young Academy education incubator programme.

TYoung Foundation logohere are an increasing number of new social ventures aiming to tackle educational inequality. With any attempt to address social problems—especially when an idea or organisation is in its infancy—collecting evidence for what is working is crucial. It helps ideas and ventures get buy-in from potential partners, stakeholders and funders. Most importantly, it can help ensure an approach is refined and improved to achieve success.

NPC has been supporting organisations enrolled in The Young Foundation’s Young Academy to establish a culture of evidence as they implement and improve their programmes. We developed this guide as part of this support and training. It outlines how organisations working in the education sector can get start or improve their data and evidence collection.

In it we outline the importance of evidence, the challenges some organisations face, and then walk through the key 3 stages of how to approach evidence collection:

  • Stage 1: Develop a proof of concept or theory of change
  • Stage 2: Look at the existing evidence
  • Stage 3: Test your theory of change by collecting evidence

NPC and The Young Foundation are sharing this guide in the hope that it helps other organisations in their approach to evidence and data collection.

KEY REASONS FOR COLLECTING EVIDENCE IDEA IMPROVEMENT: Collecting evidence will help you understand which aspects of your idea ‘work’, for whom, and in what circumstances. Your idea will be better and more refined if you collect the right sort of evidence to test it. SOCIAL INVESTMENT: Social investors will want to know that a programme can have an impact on beneficiaries—that it is a good use of their money. Unless you can make this case with real evidence it will be difficult to attract any kind of funding. RAISING PROFILE AND COMMUNICATING TO STAKEHOLDERS: If you can say with confidence that evidence supports your idea, you will be better placed to attract attention (and revenue) from existing supporters and others interested in the sector. CONTRIBUTING TO KNOWLEDGE: Reporting what your evidence tells you could help other organisations to improve, and ultimately help beneficiaries. Good evidence may even help the sector to influence government policy and increase levels of funding.

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