Why do we need the Outcomes and how do we use them?

The Youth Work Outcomes articulate the difference that youth works makes with, and for, young people in Scotland. The outcomes provide a common language for youth workers to describe the youth work approach and the impact it has on young people.

The Youth Work Outcomes and Indicators can be used in four key ways:

1. Planning

The outcomes can be embedded into organisational strategy, forming the basis for long-term strategic goals. The outcomes can also be used for specific youth work programme or project planning. Finally, the outcomes can be used for session or specific activity planning.

Diagram showing flow from Plan to Do to Review to Improve and back to Plan again.There are a number of established improvement models based on the planning and evaluation cycle used within the sector, such as the LEAP Planning and Evaluation Cycle and the Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA) Cycle used by Scottish Government and healthcare.

Improvement models all essentially follow a simple staged process which involves planning what you will do, doing the work, reviewing how it went and using that learning to identify improvements which are then embedded into practice. The outcomes and indicators underpin and are a critical part of the Plan-Do-Review-Improve model.

2. Self-evaluation and improvement

The outcomes and their associated indicators are designed to support self-evaluation and quality improvement so youth work is the best it can be for young people. Using the outcomes and indicators helps youth workers to understand where they are making a difference and where they need to improve. Evaluating using the Youth Work Outcomes and Indicators can support improved reporting to funders, higher-quality experiences for young people and communicating your impact to other stakeholders.

3. Communicating the value of youth work

The outcomes enable the youth work sector to clearly and consistently explain the value of youth work and the difference between youth work and other services for young people. For communications purposes, it can be useful to use all seven outcomes together to help paint the picture of the range of youth work impacts. When using the outcomes for one of the other purposes - self-evaluation, partnership working or planning - you may well select a smaller number of outcomes that best suit the work you do and difference you are trying to make.

4. Working in partnership with other youth work providers

The outcomes and indicators provide a common language and basis for partnership working or commissioning youth work, providing a common purpose and clarity about what they are trying to achieve whilst allowing for and celebrating the diversity within Scotland’s youth work sector.

Local adaptation

The outcomes and indicators are designed to be used across the range of youth work settings in Scotland and as such, are deliberately broad and general. In order to meaningfully support local planning and self-evaluation, an organisation will need to translate or adapt the outcomes and indicators to understand what they mean in the context of their work. Our Translating Indicators template can help with this process.

This adaptation process is also the opportunity to take account of other policy drivers or strategies such as your CLD Plan, a local youth work strategy or organisational strategy. Without this process of adaptation or translation, the outcomes and indicators are too general and become a tick-box exercise.

The outcomes and young people

Consistent use of the Youth Work Outcomes across the youth work sector means that young people can track and reflect on their journey travelled across all of their youth work experiences. The outcomes and indicators were designed to be appropriate and accessible for use with young people and can easily be turned into questions to use with young people to reflect on experience and learning. When using the outcomes and indicators, you will need to ‘translate’ or adapt them to your local context so they are more relevant for the young people you work with. Youth workers are best placed to decide whether further translation into other languages or formats is necessary based on young people’s need with support from YouthLink Scotland.

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