Utilising process evaluation to make sense of implementing place-based systems change approaches: Improving early learning

Process evaluations are increasingly used to understand early stages of implementation and we have
utilised this method to explore and examine how such processes can influence implementation of
place-based systems change. Early Learning Communities was formed as a system approach to
improve children’s early learning outcomes. It was developed in alignment with Save the Children
UK (SCUK) systems change framework which underpinning theories of systems, drawing on both
ecological systems and the iceberg theoretical approaches to systems change, along with behaviours
and traits that contribute to the function of a health social and complex system.

After development of a large evidence review and toolkit, the Early Learning Communities approach
involves taking system members and partners through a strategy planning process dedicated to
improving Early Learning outcomes. We evaluated the early stages of implementation of the ELC,
whilst considering the success of the local strategic planning process based on the resources, inputs,
activities and outputs for the strategic planning process, as set out by the guidance within an
evidence-based toolkit and defined by the Community.

Utilising a framework analysis approach underpinned by Proctor’s (2011) implementation outcomes
model, we identified core domains of engagement with the strategic planning process from a
mixture of observations, field notes and interviews. Insights from the process evaluation have
enabled us to tease out enablers and barriers to implementation of the systems change approach.

Monday, 2 December, 2019 - 14:00 to 15:00
Dr Christine Bradley & Dr Arun Verma (Save the Children)
Presenter(s) biography: 

Dr Christine Bradley / Christine is currently Evaluation and Research Advisor at Save the Children UK.
She is co-evaluator for the process evaluation of the Early Learning Communities Evaluation and
technical lead for the wider evaluation work surrounding the project. She is Principle Investigator for
a Random Efficacy Trial of a Save the Children Parental Engagement programme, in partnership with
NFER, Queen’s University Belfast and funded by the Nuffield Foundation. Prior to working at Save
the Children, she has worked for the Early Intervention Foundation as a technical analyst on the
Foundations for Life Report and as a co author at the NSPCC on their Prevalence Study of Child
Abuse and Neglect in the UK. She has also worked as a researcher for the British Red Cross, Roy
Castle Lung Cancer Foundation and for 4Children. She completed a PhD in Risk and Protective factors
related to Sibling Conflict at the University of Bristol where she also worked as a Research Fellow on
a Domestic Violence information sharing programme. She did a six-month internship at Kings College
London at the Institute of Psychiatry where she worked on the parenting programme toolkit. She is
an Alumni of the University of Surrey having completed the MSc in Social Research.
Dr Arun Verma / Arun is currently the Qualitative Research and Evaluation Advisor at Save the
Children UK. He is involved as a co-evaluator for this process evaluation and is currently leading
other qualitative evaluation projects in the organisation. He previously led qualitative research and
evaluation projects in a local authority, which directly influenced the re-commissioning of an entire
mental health and domestic abuse system, as well as writing insights reports for cabinet members.
He has conducted various evaluations and analyses from conversation, ethnography, narrative and
framework analyses through to realist synthesis, most significant change and implementation. Arun
is a Visiting Researcher for the University of Surrey and an Academic Tutor for the University of
Dundee, which is where he completed his doctorate titled “Intersecting identities in healthcare
education: exploring the influence of gendered environments on healthcare students' workplace
learning, retention and success”. Prior to that he completed his undergraduate and Master’s in
psychology and clinical applications of psychology.