Since 2014, the Department for Education (the Department) has been funding a range of innovation projects intended to help local authorities improve both outcomes for children and value for money. The Department has provided over £300 million for the projects, their evaluations and connected programmes.
In 2021, the National Audit Office received correspondence from a member of Parliament drawing our attention to a local project, funded through the Innovation Programme, which had received a positive evaluation. We decided that there was a good case for a wider investigation into the strengths of the Department’s funding and evaluation of innovation projects as a whole.
This investigation explores how the Department uses evaluation to inform decision-making. It will cover:
- The rollout of the Innovation Programme and successor programmes:
- Evaluation of the Department’s innovation projects and programmes; and
- How the Department has used evaluation and other evidence to make key decisions.
This report does not seek to examine the value for money of Department’s innovation projects. It provides a factual account of the Department’s oversight and funding of innovation projects, and how it has used evaluation in its policy development process.