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Are we a learning organisation | Theory

These resources will support you to understand more about the values and characteristics of learning organisations, as well as some of the systems, tools, processes, and structures that can support with meaningful learning activities. This includes working out if your evaluation and learning efforts are supporting impact for everyone or whether some people are gaining more than others. 

Starting point

Start here if you are a youth practitioner new to evaluation and quality improvement design:

What does it mean to be a Learning Organisation?

Learn more about what it means and what it takes to become a learning organisation.

Read here

UK Youth safe spaces

A helpful checklist tool covers various important areas relating to the security and sustainability of your organisation, including: health and safety; safeguarding; data protection; risk assessment; Human Resources (HR); and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).

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Building a strong culture of evaluation

Find out more about the characteristics of a strong evaluative culture, and how to foster one, in this report by Mayne (2008). It identifies the practical actions you can take to embed a culture of evaluation and gives examples of systems and structures that can work well to support and evolve it.

Read the report


Resources to build on your experience of evaluation frameworks and continuous quality improvement:

Real case studies of organisations using data to improve programme quality

If you’re looking for inspiration from other organisations, this 2021 report from Open Data Manchester and the Data Collective presents case studies from 5 organisations that used data to generate insights that improved their programme’s quality and impact.

Read the report

Building a Learning Organisation

This Harvard Business Review paper offers a useful overview of five characteristics of learning organisations - how do you measure up?

Read the article

Community of Practice

Developing your monitoring and evaluation activities might be easier within a community of practice, like the College’s Regional Impact Hubs. Communities of practice are groups of people who share a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better together by interacting regularly – find out more with this brief overview of the concept and its uses. 

You can also find out how to join our regional impact networks here.  

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How to Apply a DEI Lens to Strengthen Evidence Building in the Social Sector

If you are interested in whether you’re achieving your aims for everyone or whether some people gained more than others, this guide to diversity, equity and inclusion by Project Evident is a useful overview.

Download the guide

Learning Organisations

This article explores the five disciplines that Peter Senge proposes as central to learning organisations ,and some issues and questions concerning the theory and practice of learning organisations. 

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NPC: Systems Change - A Guide

‘Systems thinking’ is a key characteristic for learning organisations. This provides an introduction to the broader systems change field, designed especially for those who are new to the concept. 

Read here