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How to write to demonstrate impact

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If you need to supply impact evidence in support of funding or want to showcase the work of your school, these tips will help you to show evidence of impact to a wider audience.

Plan for impact

Producing the strongest impact evidence starts in the planning phase of your activity. Before you start the delivery phase you should ensure you have:

  • fully understood the root cause of the problem you’re seeking to address
  • considered what success would look like, and which tools and resources will be used to further define and quantify the issue
  • defined the qualitative and quantitative success measures you are working towards – which should follow SMART principles where possible
  • made a plan to both deliver – and measure – success
  • considered how impact will be embedded beyond the support provided and how you will evaluate sustainability

The Education Endowment Foundation has produced a DIY evaluation guide providing teachers with advice on how to conduct effective small-scale evaluations in schools.

Structure your writing

Use a clear structure to present your impact effectively. At a minimum you need to explain:

  • your aims – the problem you addressed and why this was important
  • what you did, how you did it and who you worked with
  • impact – how you know that you have been successful

In addition, it’s often powerful to describe your own learning experiences from an activity: it’s important to talk about what didn’t work as well as what did. You should also include details of any resources or contacts that can be shared with other schools.

Writing is also an opportunity to explain elements that are valuable but harder to quantify. One example could be the impact you have had on culture and mindset in a school. With any subject that is harder to quantify, it is imperative to be really precise and avoid generic or woolly statements.

NCTL’s impact framework is one option for compiling a strong, structured impact statement.

Consider your audience

You are an expert in the field you are writing about but your audience may not be. Assuming knowledge risks making your writing inaccessible.

Avoid jargon – if you have a recurring acronym, write it out in full for the reader the first time you use it.

Pick out the best bits

Focus on writing about the most relevant and interesting information. This should include anything you did that was innovative or particularly effective in solving a problem other schools might have.

Schools are often operating with limited resources – so consider value for money and highlight activity that delivered the greatest return for investment.

Be concise

Make your text easy to scan for the busy reader. Using subheadings, highlighted keywords and bullet points effectively helps signpost readers to the most important information.

Less is more! Keep sentence lengths short and to the point where possible and the overall word count down.

Try writing in an active rather than passive tone. For example, “We produced a report about how we used the pupil premium”, is quicker and easier to read than the more passive, “It was decided that the alliance would commission a report about the alliance’s use of the pupil premium within our schools.”

Work offline

If you are working with an online portal or application form, prepare your answers in an offline document first.

This allows you to use functions such as spellcheck and word count before presenting a response. It will also guard against any IT issues such as an online portal timing out.

Before you submit your work, print it out and proofread from a hard copy. You’ll spot more typos, incomplete sentences and word repetitions this way.

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