My Week - Lucy Ellis

Lucy Ellis, who is a Research and Evaluation specialist in the Research and Insight team at YST, talks about what a typical week looks like for her.


My week begins by focusing on our Healthy Movers programme evaluation. Healthy Movers aims to develop young children’s physical literacy skills to improve their school readiness and social mobility.  It is one of my favourite programmes that YST delivers, I love it when we get opportunities to go and observe the sessions as everyone is always having so much fun – practitioners included! I have a telephone interview with the tutor who has been delivering the programme to get her feedback. In the afternoon I start to analyse the data from early years settings involved in the programme. Both activities will then feed into a report I will write which will explore the overall impact of the programme for the funder. Evaluation is really important to be able to understand how we can continue to improve our programmes and have the biggest impact on the young people we work with.


Today I joined our National Partner Research Network group meeting. This is a group of research representatives from other organisations in the sports sector, such as Women in Sport and Activity Alliance. We aim to meet two to three times a year. It provides an opportunity hear what similar organisations are currently doing, learn from each other and share best practice. Not only is it really interesting to hear first-hand what other research is going on, it also plays an important role in making sure there is minimal duplication of energy and resources in the sector.


A request for an online survey to be built and tested flies in this morning. The survey is aimed at finding out about how Scottish schools have found returning to school, to help us understand how we can support them and English schools when they also return. As a research team, we often work reactively, especially in these COVID times, and get requests from others within the organisation for surveys to go out through our networks of schools and practitioners. It is especially important at the moment in such a changing landscape to help us understand how we are positioned to best support schools and young people.

After creating the survey, I can get into my main focus for the day. It is time to start thinking about our annual impact report and the research and evaluations we have completed this year. Every year, this report shows how many children, teachers and schools we have supported to access the life changing benefits of sport, PE and physical activity. It’s a crucial moment for our charity and I am particularly excited to work on this year’s report because we are having to look at it a bit differently due to many of our evaluations and data collection opportunities being impacted by COVID-19.


For some of our programmes we commission and work with external evaluators. Our role as the Research and Insight Team is to manage that relationship, working with the programme managers at YST. This involves arranging the open tender process, deciding which organisation to work with and then working collaboratively throughout the course of the programme evaluation. Free Thought Research has been commissioned to evaluate our Young Coaches and Activators programme, so today I have a call with the lead researcher to catch up on how the evaluation is going and to look at what the priorities are for the next couple of weeks.


It was great to see our research about a reduction in hours for PE lessons was quoted on BBC The One Show! Creating hard hitting research reports and drawing attention to inequalities and challenges young people face to accessing PE is a vital part of my work. It sees me work closely with our comms team to increase awareness and influence change.

A morning with no meetings booked in means I can dedicate time to focus on developing an executive summary for our Wales Leadership interventions evaluation for this year. Using infographic software, we are able to create attractive and accessible resources that summarise the impact of our programmes.

The afternoon involved a quick catch up with our internal ‘Active 30’ team – we help colleagues to live our values and be active everyday by providing a schedule of events, challenges and activities throughout the year. This month – a walking challenge!


Published on 9 November 2020