Evaluation & Data

HeppSY is an iterative Programme, which continually adapts according to emerging best practice. The Evaluation and Data Team are at the heart of this process, continually feeding research and evaluation findings into the Programme’s design, and assisting the future direction of outreach activity.

The iterative delivery-evaluation loop

The evaluation is underpinned by a realist approach, most notably developed by Pawson and Tilley (2014 [1997]). Realist evaluation is a holistic approach to evaluating the efficacy of a programme which aims to understand what works for whom, in what context and why. Realist evaluation has the particular benefit that it “takes account of complexity, and is concerned with making sense of context, mechanisms and outcomes” (Thomas 2017:4).
The Realist evaluative approach is beneficial when evaluating Widening Participation outreach programmes. There are many contextual factors which may present barriers to young people accessing higher education which could reproduce social inequality.
The evaluation uses a mixed methods approach, mainly involving primary research, this includes annual surveys, pre/post activity surveys, interviews and focus groups with students, parents, school staff and members of the HeppSY team. The team also provide analysis of registers and student characteristic data through HEAT, along with externally funded pieces of research.

“[The Evaluation and Data Manager’s presentation for NEON about the HeppSY evaluation framework] was great to hear…we’ve come back to work full of ideas and inspired! Good work @HeppSYplus and [the Evaluation and Data Manager]”

Study Higher Berkshire on Twitter @StudyHigherBerk

The HeppSY strands are fundamental to the Programme, with any activity being delivered having to address at least one of the following four areas:

  1. Confidence/realising aspirations
  2. Attainment/academic self-perception
  3. Career knowledge
  4. Higher education knowledge

Students and parents can download our privacy notice explaining the type of data being collected and how the data will be used here: HeppSY Privacy Notice

Key statistics and findings:

  • Each year over 10, 000 young people in South Yorkshire have completed our annual survey
  • Two-thirds (66%) of young people say their family has the greatest influence on their decisions about what to do after completing their studies
  • There are 29,430 young people in South Yorkshire who are eligible for HeppSY activity
  • HeppSY has worked with14,335 young people (April 2019)
  • 11,840 young people are on a sustained programme of activity (April 2019)
  • Confidence and aspirations around progression to HE are increased when students are taken out of their ‘comfort zone’
  • Trips to a variety of HEIs helps to expand horizons about viable HE opportunities, and gain familiarity with specific institutions
  • Real-life experiences of ‘being a student’ helps solidify a young person’s future identify of actually seeing themselves in HE

Data Protection:

Data will be processed in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR, 2018). NCOP is a collaborative programme. This information may be shared with Sheffield Hallam University (SHU), The University of Sheffield (TUoS) and the Higher Education Progression Partnership (HEPP). However, HeppSY and its partners will not release individual information to anyone who is unauthorised. More details about this can be found on Sheffield Hallam University and The University of Sheffield websites:


All data will be stored securely and any reporting will be done so through collated data, meaning that individual students will not be identifiable. You have the right to opt out of sharing your data (please contact Greg Brown), or to request for your data to be removed from our system (contact us anytime).

Get in touch:

Greg Brown, Evaluation and Data Manager
0114 225 6473 or g.brown@shu.ac.uk