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Public Legal Education Evaluation Framework

By: Sharon Collard, Dr. Chris Deeming, University of Bristol Personal Finance Research Centre, Lisa Wintersteiger, Martin Jones, John Seargeant, Law for Life

The Public Legal Education Network (Plenet) commissioned this evaluation framework to help answer two of these three questions: what is legal capability and what impact do PLE projects and programmes have on individual’s legal capability? The question of how legally capable we are as a population was outside the scope of this project, although we do consider options for measuring levels of legal capability.

The evaluation framework starts by describing what we mean by legal capability, in other words, what should we know and be able to do when faced with law-related issues in everyday life. Conceptualising legal capability in this way is an important first step because it can help us think about PLE project design and evaluation and it can also help us think about how we might measure legal capability in the future.

The framework also aims to promote robust evaluations of the impact of PLE interventions, so that over time we develop a better understanding of what works and why and to provide a sound basis for forward planning.

The framework is intended to encourage an approach to evaluation that is integrated with routine organisational and project operations so that both learners and educators can reflect on what is being done and the extent to which things are working well. The emphasis is on practical, ongoing evaluation strategies that involve all stakeholders, not just evaluation experts.

Accompanying the framework is a separate set of guidance which provides general information about planning, implementing and reporting an evaluation. This guidance draws on a range of evaluation resources which organisations may wish to consult when thinking about project evaluation. These resources have been selected on the basis that they offer good coverage of a specific topic; there are of course a variety of other evaluation resources freely available that organisations may choose to use. The links to resources provided in the guidance were active at the time of writing.