The Evaluation Task Force’s (ETF) Evaluation Academy introduces a new way to train evaluators in government

Natasha Bance

This blog is part of our Analysis in Government Month 2023 series. You can find more articles and resources on our Analysis in Government Month hub.

The ETF is improving the ability of analysts in departments to evaluate effectively by introducing an innovative learning and development model.

Only 8% of the spending on major government’s projects was evaluated thoroughly in 2019. That means that every tax payer in the UK has spent roughly £19,000 on a policy without knowing if it actually works. This shows that the Civil Service is still learning the best ways to effectively measure the impact of some of HMG’s ambitious priority programmes. We risk missing vital opportunities to make a tremendous difference for citizens because we may be spending money on programmes that do not work as intended.

To help resolve this issue, the ETF ran their first 5-day Evaluation Academy. The session took place in March 2023 and was attended in person by more than 40 future evaluation trainers. The Evaluation Academy uses a “train the trainer” model, which means departmental analysts are empowered to own the training and use it in their departments. The model offers departments a sustainable and cost-effective way to make the most of their internal expertise to train analysts in what matters most to each department.

“The Academy was particularly useful because it was so interactive. I not only learned about the material, but also how to deliver it effectively as well as tips and tricks from the other analysts on the course. Learning alongside participants from all across government offered a great environment that really challenged me on how to teach, do and advocate for evaluation.”
— Lizzie Shelmerdine, Strategic Evaluation Lead at the Office for National Statistics (ONS)

The Evaluation Academy brought together 14 departments to upskill participants in evaluation methods and other soft skills, such as evaluation advocacy influencing the policy cycle and communicating evidence. These skills and techniques are needed to become an effective evaluator. Each module is supported by department-specific case and teaching studies to connect the course theory with real-life evaluation challenges.

“The best way to learn something is to have to teach it yourself. I think this is quite a viral, organic and, dare I say, cheaper model to help us get the core skills across the whole of the Civil Service”
— Cat Little, Second Permanent Secretary to the Treasury

The graduates of the Evaluation Academy are now setting up training courses to share what they have learnt to the wider analytical community in their home departments.

To learn more about Evaluation Academy training happening in your department please email

The Evaluation Task Force (ETF)
Natasha Bance
The Evaluation Task Force (ETF) is a joint HM Treasury and Cabinet Office unit set up to put evaluation evidence at the heart of government decisions. The team drives continuous improvements in the way HM Government programmes are evaluated to inform decisions on whether they should be continued, expanded, modified, or stopped.