SLAMbassadors is the longest running spoken word education programme in the UK. The Poetry Society leads this annual programme which includes workshops with schools and informal groups, performances and INSET training. In 2015 I was commissioned to produce a public facing advocacy document about the project, and the following year I conducted an evaluation of the project.
A poem in progress at one of the workshops.
The fieldwork for the projects included:
- observing workshops in schools and with a group of young carers,
- leading focus groups with young people,
- conducting mini-depth interviews with pupils, teachers and poets,
- taking quick vox pops with those attending the final showcase.
The advocacy report provided a brief overview and short case studies of the project sessions. It showcased best practice, highlighting particular successes and identifying key elements which could be replicated elsewhere (e.g. particular approaches, formats). The primary audience for the report was the literature education sector and project funders.
The following year, the internal project evaluation focused on the 2016 programme from the point of view of the pupils and teachers who participated. I looked at the way in which pupils engaged, exploring the nature and impact of their involvement in terms of their personal progression and their perceptions of poetry. From a teachers’ perspective, the research focused on the way in which SLAMbassadors had contributed to their professional development. Taking a step back, the report then looked over the last three years to see if there was, anecdotally, any cumulative impact for schools and to identify any changes in how schools have approached the programme. Finally, the report looked at the barriers which may exist for schools to fully engage with the project and highlights potential solutions.
The work was commissioned by Thomas MacAndrew, Education Manager at The Poetry Society, who said:
The qualitative research Catherine produced was outstanding. She elicited and captured feedback from participants that we would never have been able to ourselves. The report she produced was well written and structured the findings to provide a clear overview of the programme. Working with Catherine throughout the process was incredibly straightforward; she worked to the brief and was adaptable to our changing needs. I’d definitely recommend her as an independent evaluator for any engagement project.
Tom MacAndrew, Education Manager, The Poetry Society