First process evaluation from the Realising Ambition programme

Launched last year the Realising Ambition is a £25 million over five years programme to replicate evidence based crime prevention interventions.

Being led by a consortium of Catch 22, the Social Research Unit, Young Foundation and Substance, it is by far and away the most sustained recent attempt to bring the evidence based programme movement to the UK.

25 projects are being run with to reach 145,000 young people aged 5 to 14 over the five years’ of programme delivery, you can read more about the programmes and programme deliverers here.

A year on from the launch an interim evaluation of the process has been published which points to some of the learning so far.

One of the interesting issues covered in the evaluation is about the balance between fidelity to what is often a programme developed in a different culture and the need to adapt.  The report concludes:

in most cases replication requires a degree of change to the original intervention design; that even the replication of proven interventions requires a degree of ‘trial and error’ to understand what needs to change and how to make an intervention work elsewhere or with different target groups (and hence also what the unchangeable core of the intervention is); and that a clear understanding of the importance of fidelity needs to be combined with ongoing monitoring and evaluation activities so as to ascertain the ‘arrow core’ [Winter and Szulanski] of the intervention. The support on fidelity offered by the consortium, as well as the tools and procedures in place in the replicating organisation or that come with the intervention, seems to create favourable conditions for the overall integrity of delivery.

Another early lesson seems to be the level of skill and authority that is needed to build these replications into autonomous organisations – 7 of the projects are being delivered in schools – may be higher than delivering them in other circumstances.

There is no doubt that any further large-scale replication projects could and should learn a lot from the work of the Realising Ambitions programme.

Download the evaluation from here.

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