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Socio-emotional Skills Measurement Hub

The College has a range of measures designed to understand and evidence young people’s socio-emotional skills growth, the quality of provision intended to support socio-emotional skills, and the level of young people’s engagement in this provision. All of the measures and the Youth Impact Portal are free to use.

About the SES Measurement Hub

We want to support everyone working with young people to understand how their provision builds relationships, and creates safe, interactive and engaging environments in which young people can grow and learn. This SES Measurement Hub explains the outcomes that we are focused on, the underpinning theory of change, and the measures you can use to collect and interpret the data. The hub is here to support practitioners to design, evaluate, improve and advocate for the practices that improve socio-emotional skills with and for young people.​

Socio-emotional Outcomes for Young People ​

There is strong evidence that socio-emotional skills underpin all other 'outcomes' for young people across the life course. We know that high quality provision develops young people's socio-emotional skills, and in particular, produces an 'equity effect': helping young people with the most gain to significantly improve their skills, whilst making sure that young people with strong socio-emotional skills don't 'fall back'.  Because we believe that socio-emotional skills are foundational, this is where we focus our approach to measurement. ​

Our Outcomes Framework sets out the 'domains' of socio-emotional skills outcomes that our tools measure. We call them domains because they reflect both young people's mental and behavioural skills, the staff practices that influence them, and the transfer of these skills to other areas of the young person’s life. There are six socio-emotional skills domains: responsibility, empathy, problem solving, initiative, teamwork, and emotion management. These are both influenced by and influence each individual person’s life experiences, and the social and political factors that surround them – including with provision. Seeing  young people 'in context' is a core part of our Outcomes Framework, acknowledging the role that context plays in developing socio-emotional skills. ​

There is strong evidence and widespread consensus that well-developed socio-emotional skills increase the likelihood of achieving positive later life outcomes for young people, such as the attainment of qualifications; securing, sustaining and progressing in employment; forming and maintaining positive relationships; developing a physically and mentally healthy lifestyle; and taking action on social injustices that matter to us. Socio-emotional skills are therefore the most important outcomes of youth work and provision.  ​

More detail about this and the conditions and experiences through which young people develop these skills, can be found in Outcomes Framework 3.0. This is a shared framework for everyone working with and for young people. 

Our measures

The College's measurement hub includes a suite of measurement tools that have been tested and found to be valid – that is, they accurately and reliably measure what they're intended to measure. They have been designed with an ethical approach at their core. All our measures are free to use. They have been developed to be used across a range of informal and non-formal youth provision, and with all young people. The measures are for all provision that intentionally seeks to develop young people's socio-emotional skills, and where practitioners or volunteers have the capacity to use the measures and reflect on the data they collect.  More information on validity can be found in our technical guides, and further information on ethics can be found on our general resource pages. 

Changes in socio-emotional skills:  the Young People’s Survey (YPS) measures  changes in young people’s socio-emotional skills by understanding where they were at when they start, potentially during, and after taking part in youth provision. The YPS is designed to show how young people's 'functional' socio-emotional skills change over time – 'functional' refers to how young people use their skills as part of their daily lives, rather than in a youth provision setting.  The longer the time period between the 'before' and 'after' measurement, the more reliable the data will be. However, the YPS can show short term change in some settings, particularly where provision is really strongly focused on developing socio-emotional skills. This would be demonstrated by the theory of change for the provision. 

Changes in behaviour:   the Practitioner Observational Tool (POT) measures young people’s socio-emotional skills in youth provision settings through a focus on how young people put these skills into practice in relationships with others. These changes are captured through observation by practitioners. The POT is designed to show how young people's 'optimal' socio-emotional skills are changing over time - 'optional' refers to how young people use their skills in provision settings. Observational tools, like this, are more accurate than self-assessments since they are not as prone to the bias that often occurs when people answer questions about themselves, and their feelings and behaviours. The POT can be used 'before and after', like the YPS, or more often, to understand more about young people's distance travelled. 

Young people’s engagement:  the Youth Engagement Survey (YES) captures young people’s ‘mental engagement’ in provision, including feelings of belonging, interest and challenge. This enables an understanding of how well the provision is engaging young people, because evidence suggests that higher levels of engagement lead to higher gains in socio-emotional skills.

The quality of youth provision: the Quality Practice Tool (QPT) measures the quality of provision in terms of the practices that promote the development of socio-emotional skills. Research shows that quality provision will result in more positive outcomes for young people, and so by capturing observations of practice, practitioners can reflect on how to create the optimal conditions to promote skill development. The QPT is a new tool that is available to pilot over the next year.  The QPT is a peer to peer observational tool (that is, practitioners observe one another)  to understand how practitioners and settings are creating the conditions that promote the development of young people’s socio-emotional skills.  

Interpreting your data: The Youth Impact Portal is a web-based application where organisations can administer the College’s measurement tools, collate/store the data and analyse results.   

Ready to dive in? Check out this PDF guide to get a detailed overview about our measurement system.