Impact Report 2011-2016: The First Five Years

We are delighted to present our Impact Report 2011-2016, charting the first five years of our work.

As the programmes of OFA have developed over the last five years, so too has our approach to impact measurement. We have always recognised the importance of rigorous impact evaluation across our programmes and we have used the findings to help us shape, guide and inform our work.

To date we have evaluated each of these programmes independently of one another and have developed and tested a variety of different approaches to evaluation. However, we are now moving towards a position where our three programmes are being evaluated under one organisation-wide impact framework. We are pleased therefore to present at the end of this report our new OFA Theory of Change and our plans for evaluating all three programmes against this.

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Theory of Change

What is a Theory of Change?

"A Theory of Change is a diagram that explains how a programme has an impact on its beneficiaries. It outlines all the things that a programme does for of its beneficiaries, the ultimate impact that it aims to have on them, and all the separate outcomes that lead or contribute to that impact. A Theory of Change should not refer to the scale, growth plan or operational details of the organisation itself – it should effectively describe and explain the impact of the programme from a beneficiary’s point of view." – Nesta

How did we develop it?

Our new Theory of Change builds on the research outlined in this report covering the first five years of our work. Through a series of workshops and planning sessions (in part supported by the Teach First Innovation Unit), we identified key trends and outcomes from each of our programmes. These outcomes have in turn been reflected in our new Theory of Change. In doing so, we hope to present a framework that captures our impact as a whole organisation rather than on a programme by programme basis.

How will we use it – and review it?

We will use our 2016-2017 Theory of Change as a basis for our evaluation framework, as it helps us to map out all of our outcomes that we need to measure. A Theory of Change is a live document: this version covers the season ending July 2017 and will be reviewed in preparation for the start of the 2017-2018 season.

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Read more

What effect does music have on young people?

‘Power of Music: a research synthesis of the impact of actively making music on the intellectual, social and personal development of children and young people’ (2010) Professor Sue Hallam MBE

What is the wider value of music education in society?

‘The Case for Cultural Learning: Key Research Findings’ (2011) Cultural Learning Alliance

How do similar programmes compare? Creech et al (2013) review reports and research from 277 El Sistema-inspired programmes in 58 countries. Almost all of them demonstrate evidence of positive personal development such as commitment, determination, resilience, self-esteem, life satisfaction and focus, as well as positive evidence of social skills development such as teamwork, community spirit, belongingness and co-operation. Evaluation reports for programmes that support instrumental music-making and ensemble playing give evidence of both academic and social-emotional advantages of the participants. For example:

‘Evaluating Sistema Scotland’ (2015) Glasgow Centre for Population Health

‘Evaluation of In Harmony’ (2016) Susanne Burns

‘An Evaluation of NJSO CHAMPS’ (2015) Steven J. Holochwost