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Developing an organisational approach

Find ways to embed the approach sustainably within your organisation to continue to improve outcomes for the people you work with and build a positive, resilient culture.

In this Section

“Taking this time to reflect as a team has been a real positive as it allowed us to recognise that we still have achieved a lot and have some real success stories when it comes to young people’s achievements. We have not merely ‘survived’ through COVID as a service.”
Coops Foyer, FOR Youth review 2021

Growing an AT service and culture

Developing an Advantaged Thinking service begins with an open reflection on where you currently are – an AT audit.

It’s an opportunity to explore and reflect on the Advantaged Thinking Test areas and understand how you can show commitment to progress priorities in these over coming weeks, months and years. The Foyer Federation’s FOR Youth quality assurance scheme has such an audit tool built into it over the first three months.

How to conduct an AT audit

To begin your organisation’s AT audit, we encourage you to reflect individually and in teams to:

  1. Select Advantaged Thinking test areas that have most relevance to the context of the service
  2. Identify positive examples in each test area, along with actions to be taken to promote these positives internally or externally
  3. Identify challenges that require further investment, along with any actions to be taken to progress these over the course of the Accreditation process

With these findings in mind, select three key actions you can take to achieve the greatest impact and note the rationale for choosing these three over other potential routes. Set yourself an ambition: what do you hope to have achieved one year from now in line with each of these actions?

The benefits of the AT audit

The pilot of the FOR Youth process showed that the audit was a way to re-energise services’ Advantaged Thinking intent, improve consistency in knowledge and approach, and embed Advantaged Thinking more sustainably for the future.

The audit brought staff together and encouraged meaningful conversations with young people over their involvement in the service and understanding of the offer available to them. An Advantaged Thinking training session can be helpful at this stage on your journey to ensure a consistent level of understanding across staff teams involved.

Learnings from the FOR Youth audit tool

  1. The focus on AT can produce increased energy and interest in service development, leading to fast action. Several services quickly began to act on themes that emerged during their audit – even causing them to delay submitting their documentation for FOR Youth!
  2. It’s often tempting (and easy) to begin with what’s going wrong rather than what’s going right. The nudge to focus on positives is an important one – often growing what’s strong can help to tackle weaknesses. The most AT services are the ones that can identify a balance of positives to celebrate and challenges to address.
  3. The audit stimulates conversations between roles, teams, managers and young people and helps to challenge assumptions through welcoming feedback. Following the audit, it can be galvanising to include AT as a regular conversation topic in meetings across the organisation.

Reflecting meaningfully

An AT audit is intended to support meaningful reflection conducted in an Advantaged Thinking way. It shouldn’t be just another task or tool. The quality of the reflection and the actions taken is where AT resides.

What matters in Advantaged Thinking is not whether people can identify its benefits as a phrase, but whether they believe staff are working with, not doing to, people; whether people feel their goals are invested in; whether people feel their strengths, identity and experiences are fully understood by staff; whether people are involved in how the service works and have the ability to shape it.

While the Accreditation process expects people to understand Advantaged Thinking, it is rarely asked about directly in assessment interviews – rather, it is indirectly referenced and identified through evidence that expresses the 7 Tests in practice.

Find out more about the Foyer Federation’s quality development for services and accreditation.

Bringing People With You page

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Bringing People With You

To create a culture of Advantaged Thinking you need to bring other people with you on the journey and think about change at a whole-system level.

Engage others in an AT audit by going deeper into the 7 Tests. Explore actions, questions and activities to get started!