Next steps for Just One Question
What a difference a year makes. April 2020 marked one month into the first Covid-19 lockdown. For many youth practitioners, the initial shock of entering lockdown led to a significant and rapid rerouting of provision. For some, their provision was paused completely. Others were starting to experiment with Zoom and Teams and practising their quiz master skills. No doubt, all the while juggling the hunt for flour to make our inevitable banana bread whilst watching 'Tiger King'.
To get a better understanding of what was changing in youth work provision and the experiences of the youth sector, in May 2020 the Centre launched Just One Question. Taking inspiration from the success of Teacher Tapp in the formal education sector, we adapted our existing Asking Good Questions survey tool to invite youth practitioners to respond to one key multiple-choice question each week. We were particularly interested to understand how monitoring and evaluation practices were changing in response to Covid and what that would mean for those working with young people.
One year on, we are still going. Open to all those who work or volunteer with young people in the UK, we invite the few hundred registered users to share their views every week. As the year progressed, we have asked a wider range of questions exploring various topics, from navigating lockdown guidance and restrictions, to young people’s engagement and youth practitioners’ experiences of supporting young people at a time of crisis.
We are now excited to take Just One Question to the next stage. This week we are launching a three-month pilot project in partnership with UK Youth to extend the reach and build the insight we can generate from Just One Question. UK Youth will be sharing the Just One Question opportunity with the UK Youth Movement of over 7,000 youth organisations and nation partners who collectively reach 4.1 million young people.
The core of Just One Question remains the same: just one question every week, taking less than 30 seconds to respond. However, we are testing how we recruit respondents and how we share the results to reach even more people. We are also changing the registration process to learn more about who takes part. We want to understand better the diversity of who responds and the breadth of organisations that they work within. Over time this will enable us to say more about how the experiences of practitioners in different sized organisations differ. We also hope to be able to understand whether the background or lived experience of practitioners affects their views. For example, can we start to gain insight into how the opportunities and experiences of practitioners differ due to gender, ethnicity or age? We will use responses gathered from participants to directly inform our work and encourage others in the youth sector to do the same.
Perhaps unsurprisingly for an organisation committed to quality evidence, we are unashamedly undertaking these changes as a pilot. We have some theories about how and whether our changes will help our insight, but there are risks. Will asking for more demographic data reduce the number of people registering or increase representation over time? Which of our ideas for recruiting new participants will be most effective? What format of question is most insightful? We will share key lessons learnt over the summer.
If you're a current Just One Question participant: nothing much will change. You will still receive one multiple-choice question once a week – although, now landing in your inbox every Tuesday. Thank you for your contributions so far and look forward to hearing from you over the coming months!
If you're not yet registered: sign up today.
Either way, keep your eyes peeled on our socials for questions and results and visit our website every week for the latest analysis.
Tom Burke is Executive Director at the Centre on a fixed-term contract to Summer 2021. Catherine Mitchell is the Centre's Organisational Learning Lead.