Case Study: Research, Evaluation & Design

HCEP Test & Trial – evaluation, Theory of Change



Hertfordshire Cultural Education Partnership (HCEP) is one of the Local Cultural Education Partnerships created by Arts Council England and initiated through the ten Bridge Organisations. HCEP has successfully applied to Royal Opera House Partnership Investment Programme which aims to support the development and strengthening of the infrastructure of HCEP and is represented by education providers (HE, FE, Secondary and Primary), local authorities, cultural providers and other stakeholders. 


HCEP aims to enable children and young people to have access to high-quality cultural provision and is undertaking a two-year programme to explore needs before trialling and testing initiatives that address those needs in geographical areas of focus.

Hertfordshire is a diverse area, being a mix of urban and rural and contains both very wealthy and very deprived areas. Situated as it is just outside London it also has high numbers of commuters into the city which affects its demographic profile. Its proximity to the cultural offer of London means Hertfordshire has slightly higher levels of cultural engagement than the rest of the population of England.



Herefordshire CEP wanted to spend the next 10 months being bold in its ambition and scope, making tangible differences to the lives of local young people. They wanted to know what works and what doesn’t and to be able to make the case for sustainable support and investment in the best new ideas, as well as the tried and tested ones. They wanted to test projects in a range of areas and with different priorities using the same criteria.

We developed the strategy for the overall evaluation of the test and trial programme, devised an evaluation framework and produced interim and final evaluation reports. Using a formative approach, we supported HCEP in understanding the criteria for success for the programme of activity and made recommendations for its development.

We evaluated and measured:

  • the progression of the programme across the 10-month period against the agreed outcomes
  • the collaboration between cultural provider/s, freelancers and the HCEP team to undertake documentary evidence, where possible, such as visual minutes, film and portfolio material generated during sessions


  • Focus groups with children and young people, teachers, schools, and cultural partners to gather data on what worked and what hadn’t
  • Evaluation framework, developed in consultation with the HCEP team
  • Theory of Change workshop
  • Tools to collect quantitative and qualitative baseline data


  • Baseline data ✓
  • Increased confidence about how better to measure impact ✓
  • Summative evaluation report, with key findings, including best practices and future recommendations ✓

The HCEP Showcase

Highlights of the Test & Trial showcase, a celebration of the amazing outcomes of the series of projects co-created by young people and creative producers, along with presentation of our evaluation findings.

BLOG: Click to read some thoughts about impact measurement and co-creation in relation to the HCEP project from Vicky Tremain, our Research, Evaluation & Design Lead.