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Theory of Change

A theory of change, quite simply, is the thinking (theory) behind the change your programme or service wants to achieve. It makes very clear the rationale which your work is based upon. It’s also been called a ‘roadmap’ for all to see and understand and, in this sense, needs to be logical.

The now commonly known ‘Blagrave report’ on “The Existing Evidence-Base about the Effectiveness of Outdoor Learning” (Fiennes, et al., 2015) highlighted theories of change as “…invaluable for understanding why an intervention works”. As well as supporting us to articulate our intention and impact, a theory of change provides a foundation for evidencing our impact. By developing a common language, we can better collectively evaluate and show the impact of our sector. Theories of change have been a part of youth work for many years (see the work done by the Centre for Youth Impact, for example) and are increasingly being used in all aspects of work with young people. Dave Harvey and Dr Lucy Maynard have written a series of blogs (see below...) applying their latest understanding of theory of change to the outdoor learning sector.

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