Client project: Blagrave Trust

Producing a systematic review of the existing evidence in a sector, to inform a foundation’s funding, other funders, plus the wider sector and research community:

The client:

The Blagrave Trust funds work in the UK with 14-25 years old, including outdoor education. Its then new Director was concerned about the quality of evaluations that it received from its partners – many of whom are practitioners (e.g., running outdoor learning centres) rather than researchers. She wondered whether there are existing rigorous studies about what works and what doesn’t in outdoor learning from which the trust could learn and which could inform its work.

What we did:

Giving Evidence was asked to produce a systematic review of all the relevant ‘what works’ studies about outdoor learning. We partnered with the EPPI Centre at University College London. We did a systematic search of the academic literature; called for, received, and screened masses of material from operational charities and others; coded all the relevant studies; and summarised what they cover, don’t cover, and what they say. More about the method and the findings are here. Blagrave Trust convened an unusual advisory group, comprising funders, academics and practitioners, and Giving Evidence managed several meetings of that group to get their input and guidance.

Client’s view:

“Caroline understood that we needed a systematic review before I had even heard of them! Giving Evidence and UCL did a great job of scoping the task, managing the research smoothly, involving the advisory group, keeping everybody informed about progress and findings, and explaining the specific purpose of this kind of research – pulling together what already exists. The process itself was helpful, by enabling practitioners, funders, and researchers to get to know each other, and the findings are useful too in terms of some things that we should fund and some things to avoid and highlighting further research gaps to the sector” 

–  Jo Wells, Blagrave Trust’s Director