ThinkForward Head of Delivery selected to take part in new youth leader programme

We’re delighted to announce that our very own Head of Delivery Sally Marsh, has been announced as one of 22 people selected to take part in the new Clore Programme for youth sector leaders.

Working in partnership with a group of youth sector charities, Clore Social Leadership has announced their new leadership development programme to find the next generation of youth sector leaders. Twenty-two emerging leaders from 22 youth charities have been revealed as the participants of the inaugural Clore6: Youth Sector Leadership Programme including ThinkForward Head of Delivery, Sally Marsh.

The six-month programme was developed for, and in collaboration with, youth charities who together identified the need to cultivate a leadership talent pipeline for their sector. Utilising their experience of developing social leaders, Clore Social Leadership provide participants with the necessary skills to become resilient and adaptive leaders.

‘Strong leadership is pivotal to navigate through organisational and sector challenges,’ said Shaks Ghosh, Chief Executive of Clore Social Leadership in The Guardian. ‘The CEOs from these youth organisations recognise this which is why they approached us. By investing in their emerging leaders, they are ensuring the future of their organisations and the people they serve. We invite additional coalitions of organisations to work with us on similar bespoke programmes so that we can support the leadership development needs of the third sector.’

The participants of Clore6: Youth Sector Leadership Programme are:

  • Amanda Fearn, National Programmes Manager, National Youth Agency
  • Amina Waldron, Company Director, Youth Elements CIC
  • Barry Williams, Director of Strategy & Membership, Ambition UK
  • Caroline Odogwu, Outreach and Marketing Executive, Business Launchpad
  • Chloe Morton, Deputy Director of Services, The Mix
  • Denise Ramsay, Young UnLtd Manager, UnLtd
  • Elli Moody, Head of PR and Advocacy, Girlguiding UK
  • Emily Thompson-Bell, Development Programme Manager, NUS Talent
  • Fiona Ellison, Campaign Manager (Voluntary & Public Sector), Step Up To Serv
  • Kamaljit Thandi, Head of Service NSPCC Helpline, NSPCC
  • Karen Anderson, Girls and Young Women’s Worker, Citadel
  • Kevin Bradburne, Director of Infrastructure and Delivery Services, YouthFed
  • Nicola Kidston, Director of Development and Partnerships, The Foyer Federation
  • Philip Kerry, Programmes Director, London Youth
  • Pippa Knott, Head of Programmes, The Centre for Youth Impact
  • Rachel Davidson, Membership Engagement Manager, The Scout Association
  • Rachel Oliver, Director of Programmes and Partnerships, vInspired
  • Sally Marsh, Head of Delivery, Think Forward UK
  • Stephanie Papapavlou, Programme Delivery Manager, Leap Confronting Conflict
  • Sue Burchill, Head of Nursing, Brook
  • Suzanne Campbell, Service Manager, The Junction
  • Suzanne Maskrey, Deputy Chief Executive, Brightside


What gets measured gets managed

I recently read the anonymous ‘confessions of a charity professional’ entitled ‘I wish someone had kicked me up the arse for wasting charity time and money’ on the Guardian Voluntary Sector Network. What struck me is that this is not so much a comment on the charity sector, but on poor performance management in general. I don’t think this is necessarily exclusive to the charity sector – there are plenty of stories of poor management in the private sector as well.

The challenge in the charity sector with performance management is determining what ‘value’ you are creating. In the private sector this is easy – you are looking to maximise profits – but this is not so clear in the charity sector. It’s not enough to simply look to increase turnover – what if the programmes you are running are not actually making a difference to the very people or issue you are looking to address?

The start of this process is to be clear on your charity’s overall objectives – what social issue are you looking to address. From this you can then establish how your charity intends to address this – what activities will you undertake. A really powerful way to cover all of this is a Theory of Change, which maps long term objectives and the intermediate steps to achieve this. Next comes identifying the milestones you will use to assess whether or not you have succeeded.

What does this look like in practice?

ThinkForward works to support young people at risk of becoming unemployed when they leave school, to make a successful transition into work or higher education. Through a Theory of Change – facilitated by our founders, Impetus-PEF – we established that our long term objective is to ensure young people are in sustainable jobs or training by the end of the programme. ThinkForward works with young people over five years from age 13 and we could not simply wait five years to see if we were successful. We therefore identified – through reference to existing research – what young people would need in order to be more likely to make a successful transition – this includes:

  • having a Level 2 (equivalent to 5 x GCSEs at grades A*-C) or Level 3 qualification (equivalent to 2 A levels)
  • improved behaviour and attendance at school
  • having opportunities such as work experience placements
  • undertaking CV and interview practice

We collect data in all these areas (and more) to track young people’s progression.

We have also designed the activities undertaken by our staff with young people to contribute to improvements in specific areas, and staff record each time they undertake a specific activity with a young person.

Based on all the above, we are able to set individual staff objectives which are linked to the broader organisational objective and programme design. We are able to set SMART targets based on young people’s achievement of the above intermediate outcomes and/or the staff’s delivery of scheduled activities. As part of our appraisal process, we are then able to assess staff performance against these SMART targets.

The hard part of effective performance management of staff in the charity sector, then, is not the actual objectives and objectives – there are plenty of management books written on this. If charities are not using some of this, then this is simply poor management. What IS undoubtedly difficult is defining what social issue you are looking to address, how your charity is going to address this and what data you will use to track progress.

The hard part of effective performance management of staff in the charity sector, then, is not setting their individual objectives. What IS difficult and what needs to come first is defining the social issue you aim to address, what your charity’s mission is or how you are going to address it and what data you will use to track progress.

– Luke McCarthy


Impetus-PEF: Making the best of mentoring

Our founders at Impetus-PEF have published an insightful article highlighting the value of mentoring in light of the Prime Minister’s new national campaign, led by the Careers and Enterprise Company to recruit more mentors to work with young people. ThinkForward’s Managing Director, Kevin Munday attended the Prime Minister’s speech on life chances last week and amongst other things the PM emphasised the importance of character education and work experience for young people. Please find an edited version of the article below.

At Impetus-PEF we know, from our work supporting charities working with disadvantaged young people to improve their educational and employment outcomes, that mentoring can be a valuable tool. Acting as a trusted and reliable adult in the life of a young person who does not have this support can help break damaging behaviours and encourage positive new ones.

There is also hard evidence that mentoring can be impactful. Meta-analyses of published programme evaluations show improvements across many areas including behavioural and social-emotional outcomes, such as involvement in crime and anti-social behaviour.

However the links to academic attainment are not as strong. The Educational Endowment Foundation/Sutton Trust Toolkit which evaluates the most effective methods for boosting attainment rates mentoring as low impact. Using their benchmarks, they judge that mentoring leads to, on average, only one or two months’ additional academic progress for children, compared to their peers who do not receive mentoring. Disadvantaged children appear to make the most progress.

For a target population at risk of failing their GCSEs, it is our experience that mentoring needs to be part of a larger support package. In addition, they are likely to need targeted support on their academic attainment, as well as careers advice and work experience. Mentors are then very well-placed to reinforce this by offering motivation and inspiration which keep young people focussed. Some of our partner charities, including ThinkForward, use mentoring as one element of their programmes in this way.

When we are looking at potential partner charities at Impetus-PEF we ask ourselves ‘Is it credible that *this* programme will get *these* young people to *those* outcomes?’ – is it fit to meet the need? Using the evidence base can help make the programme as credible as it can be, by revealing the things you should and should not do to increase your chances of having a positive impact.

When it comes to mentoring the evidence base shows that a clear, codified structure for the intervention, and expectations of both the mentors and mentees is important, as is initial training and ongoing supervision and support for mentors. Screening of mentors to assess their commitment and reliability over the long-term will not be a wasted effort, as mentoring relationships that end sooner are less likely to have an impact. Equally, effective mentoring programmes invest time in getting the match right between mentor and mentee – where they share interests, the impacts are greater.

There is also some evidence that mentors from a ‘professional background’ improve outcomes, and that community-based mentoring programmes are more effective than school-based programmes. As the EEF/Sutton Trust Toolkit makes clear, there have been mentoring programmes that have had a detrimental effect on young people. The impact, or lack of it, is in the detail of how the programmes are designed, implemented, and managed.

Mentoring is a less expensive intervention compared to some others – but any intervention is expensive which does not achieve its aims. It will be crucial that the ‘credibility test’ is applied as this mentoring programme is designed and rolled out, that the evidence base is used, and that the young mentees’ academic progress is tracked, and used to manage the programme. After all, the stakes are highest for them.

This article first appeared on the Impetus-PEF website on 26th Jan 2015