Shared Learning Programme as a way of ‘reporting’

Our Shared Learning Programme is a way of ‘reporting’ where ESS facilitates a series of learning events for funded organisations and writes reports with thematic analysis, instead of organisations submitting full written reports.

What can a Shared Learning Programme offer?

This way of working involves projects and funders coming together to identify, discuss and capture shared learning.  This removes pressure from funding officers who would otherwise be responsible for identifying wider learning from individual reports. Funded projects confirm important or emerging themes. They explore further learning, get to know each other and their funders, and gain confidence from discovering shared challenges (they are not alone). This means that the learning that emerges is more complete. Shared Learning reports are designed to be accessible with sections that can be extracted and easily shared.

How do Shared Learning Programmes work?

TNLCF Homelessness Learning Session

ESS can help funders gather shared learning from projects as an alternative to full written reports.  The process is flexible, but typically:

  • ESS facilitates a kick-off event to explain the process, check projects want to participate, agree learning priorities, and identify shared outcome themes
  • Projects continue to submit regular activity and financial monitoring data to their funder 
  • ESS uses a series of online questionnaires and learning events (either face to face or on Zoom) to gather information about the difference projects are making (outcomes), emerging themes, and what they are learning
  • ESS uses analysis of the resulting evidence to inform the next sessions and to produce visually attractive reports on the shared learning
  • Projects and funders review these reports before they are finalised
  • ESS supports both projects and funders to share the learning as appropriate.
Questionnaire screenshot (click to view larger image)
Example report page (click to view larger image)

Who are Shared Learning Programmes for?

Funders (or funding streams) that:

  • have a particular focus – e.g. client group, type of intervention etc.
  • want to learn more about what works / doesn’t in order to inform future funding decisions and/or wider policy and practice

For example, we have worked with:

  • Homelessness projects with a focus on prevention, funded by The National Lottery Community Fund [TNLCF] in response to the Scottish Government’s Homelessness Action Plan, (2019-2022). The reports have now been published.

Have a look at these sample Shared Learning Reports below:

Also check out this 2-page document that outlines feedback from funder and funded about learning events:

There is also this blog from Kate Robinson, Knowledge and Learning Office, The National Lottery Community Fund: Learning new ways to support homelessness organisations.

Feedback from funders

‘This learning can inform our development work on health & social care integration. Views gathered from this round of funded projects will directly inform the design of the next round.’

Lara Murray, Fund Manager, The ALLIANCE

‘The National Lottery Community Fund has found working with ESS on this project very rewarding in terms of keeping projects engaged and maintaining enthusiasm for sharing the learning from their work in this format.  As a result, we’re seeing a lot of richness coming out about the complexity of work around preventing homelessness, and supporting people at risk.  We’ve gained insight from the questionnaires, reports and learning sessions, where people clearly feel comfortable commenting what’s working well and the challenges, and this helps us going forward.’ 

Kate Robinson, Knowledge and Learning Officer, TNLCF

Feedback from learning event participants

I’ve found this new way of working GREAT! the amount of sharing we have done and shared learning and peer support has been great. It’s great to meet up every so often with outsiders and chat about progress and how we can all help each other. 

More feedback from participants

This process has encouraged us to have confidence in what we do and to be flexible in our approach and to be free to make mistakes, take risks and learn better processes of evaluation.

‘I enjoyed the informal / creative process. Much more appealing than one final report.’

‘Growth enhancing (rather than soul destroying).’

‘A creative approach to impactful evaluation! Refreshing!’

‘It’s a two-way street which leads to honesty & transparency.’

‘Sometimes you are sparked by something someone else has said / written that resonates but maybe wouldn’t have been in the report.’

Want to discuss setting up a Shared Learning Programme?

Contact Martha Lester-Cribb by email: