After a four month tender process for an Independent Summative Evaluation partner, Southend early years partnership ABSS has appointed RSM UK Consulting LLP to independently evaluate the impact of the ten-year Lottery funded programme.

In order to sustain activity beyond the period of funding, it is essential to have a solid evidence base of what has worked and the difference ABSS has made.

Beginning in 2021, RSM will conduct research at three crucial points over the next four years – 2021, 2022/23 and 2024 collecting and evaluating evidence on ABSS Programme-wide outcomes, in collaboration with the ABSS academic partner, the University of Essex. Their research will also involve working directly with Southend parents and ABSS service providers, to hear about the experiences of accessing and delivering the innovative suite of services.

By gathering information into how ABSS partners are meeting the objectives set out by funders of the programme, the National Lottery Community Fund, it offers valuable insight into the changes made by the programme within the community.

Jeff Banks, Director of ABSS, says:

“This is an important milestone in the ABSS programme. Whilst we know there has been a ‘closing of the gap’ for the most disadvantaged families in Southend, across a number of measures, it is critically important that we are able to identify precisely what activities and approaches have led to this change. In this way we can then ensure partners are able to take this work forward together after the Lottery funding comes to an end in 2025”.

Clare Littleford, newly appointed Research and Evaluation Manager at ABSS says:

“We are delighted to be working with the team at RSM, along with The University of Essex, to understand better the impact of the ABSS programme. As independent evaluators, they will be ideally placed to talk to Southend parents and ABSS service providers to identify what has worked and where improvements can be made in the future. This is an important step towards ensuring that the gains that have been made during the period of Lottery funding continue and are built on into the future. The learning from this evaluation will help to make a real difference to the lives of families and children in Southend.”

Jenny Irwin, Head of Economic Consulting at RSM says:

“It is with great pleasure that we embark on the A Better Start Southend Summative Evaluation with our colleagues from the University of Essex. We look forward to working with all of the ABSS partners, service providers, parents and the wider community to understand the impact of the programme and to support evidence-based decision making about expanding, scaling or mainstreaming ABSS services and projects.”

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