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28th November 2018 Bea Udeh

What does success look like? #ADA

Exterior of Discover Children's Centre credit Sorcha Bridge

At Discover Children’s Story Centre, ADA 3.0 Fellow, Jessica Ziebland is putting a stake in the ground by offering free afternoons for local school children.  Will they enjoy their free afternoon and what if they don’t come back?  These are all bubbling around in the set up of Jessica’s experiment.

My first experiment is going well (if slowly – schools are not the swiftest at responding to emails even when you are offering something fun and free for their pupils).

My aims for this experiment were quite simple:

We want to ensure we’re a space for our local community.

We are for kids.

Kids generally go to local schools.

We have relationships with our local schools.

It seems a no-brainer to reach local families by approaching them through schools. In addition, we have quieter times in our spaces on weekday afternoons – at exactly the time when kids are leaving schools.

At the advice of my mentor, Pauline, I am holding off the exact logistics until I’ve spoken to our contacts at the schools – as they undoubtably hold information about their kids and families that can help make this the best possible offer. But the bit I have been stuck on is the measuring.


Measuring is always hard with diversity. There’s nothing more alienating to a group of people than to endlessly survey them, ask them about their household income and ethnic diversity and how often they engage with ‘The Arts’ (okay, some things probably are more alienating, but still).

So to decide ‘what success looks like’ I went back to the original question: why are we doing this? We want local people to view Discover as a space for their families. And we think that we are welcoming and wonderful – we just need to get people through the door so they can see that for themselves, and come back.

What we need to know is:
– Is this your first time here?
– Will you come back?

We already know they’re local (tick) because we are giving these free passes to local schools. And we’ll have the numbers of people recorded as part of the entry process, so that information will be collected too.

We’re not going to ask them a million other, possibly intrusive, certainly long winded questions. we can simply have someone standing by the exit asking people these two yes/no questions. My experience of asking people short questionnaires is that those that want to will take the chance to tell you other things too, and that’s always interesting and useful – we’ll record and ponder that qualitative stuff as well.

So what does success look like?

We don’t really know until we see it – but we do know these things:
Local families
Lots of them
Lots of them new to Discover
Lots of them saying they want to come back

My next post might be titled: what does failure look like (and what we can still learn). Because that’s okay too.



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