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Research and Evaluation

Evaluation and Data

The Research and Evaluation team, work across the SUN region embedding robust monitoring and evaluation processes within SUN funded activities and projects – this includes the funding you receive as a school or college.

Our core responsibilities are to:

  1. Monitor engagement across SUN’s 70 target wards
  2. Ensure activities are robustly evaluated
  3. Fund strategic widening participation research across the region
  4. Provide support and training opportunities to stakeholders
  5. Measure the longitudinal impact of activities and ascertain ‘what works’ and why

Evaluation is a core component of NCOP. We work closely with the NCOP national evaluation team ensuring our local best practice, from the activity and evaluation information and data you collect, is fed into national higher education policy discussions.

Your role is a vital factor in SUN being a beacon of best practice in national widening participation practice.


Progression Framework

All activities must be linked back to our Progression Framework – this is a requirement by the Office for Students. You can download a copy of this from the Research and Evaluation pages of our website. There are three key themes our learning objectives have been divided into. These themes have been selected based on evidence gathered over the past two years and published research on widening participation.

Attitudes and Knowledge of higher education: A third of NCOP learners in Year 9 who took part in our baseline survey know nothing about their post-16 and post-18 options.  The SUN young researchers report, supports evidence from the baseline as young people stated they only know “a little bit” about apprenticeships and want more advice and guidance in this area.

Attainment: Research BIS Research Paper (2015). Socio-economic, ethnic and gender differences in HE participation (Report No.186) shows a strong suggestion that GCSE attainment is the best indicator of progression to HE. Our Local Authority data suggests that NCOP learners are not achieving as highly as their non-NCOP peers which limits progression opportunities.

Positive Possible Selves: Moving away from a deficit model of ‘aspiration raising’, we are focussing on the expectation of achieving ambitions (Harrison & Waller, 2017). Aspirations of progression are equal across NCOP learners and their peers. However; NCOP learners identify additional barriers to engagement such as responsibilities outside of school, stress and anxiety (SUN Young Researchers report, 2019).