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D2I news for January: analysis, apprenticeships, and awards...

Dear all ChAT group members –


As Data to Insight Manager, I’m here to support development of our data tools and the communities we form around them. If you want to talk about this stuff, or have ideas for how we can do useful things – or how you’d like to get involved – then by all means reply to this email and let me know what you’re thinking about. In the meantime, I have some updates to offer:


  1. Vote for us in the iNetwork Innovation Awards – deadline 24/01/2021

  2. CS data analyst apprenticeships

  3. Strategic Use of Data in Children’s Services – join us on 04/02/2021

  4. ChAT and BMt mini-updates

  5. www.datatoinsight.org

  6. Other things in the works

  7. Credits



1. Vote for us in the iNetwork Innovation Awards – deadline 24/01/2021


GMCA have nominated our Collaborative Demand Modelling project for this year’s iNetwork Innovation Awards, in two categories (Partner Excellence and COVID-19 Response). Voting is now open until midnight Sunday 24 January 2021. Please do take a look at the nominations page, read our case study, and consider voting for us in either of the Partner Excellence and COVID-19 Response categories. You don’t have to be an iNetwork member to participate in the public vote, or to get something useful from the case studies.


We're really excited about the project and the way it rapidly brought LAs together to share insight (we're currently working on further improvements based on feedback from LAs). If you’d like to get involved in that work, or to give feedback on where you think we should take it, please let me know.



2. CS data analyst apprenticeships


As previously reported, we’re designing a data apprenticeship specifically for children’s services analysts, which can be paid by the apprenticeship levy. The course will launch in March and we have scheduled two briefing sessions for potential candidates (and/or their managers) to hear more about the curriculum and ask questions. The sessions will be on:

  • Tuesday 26th January, 12:00-12:45

  • Monday 1st February, 10:00-10:45

If you’d like an invitation for either briefing session, please contact us.



3. Strategic Use of Data in Children’s Services – join us on 04/02/2021


The NPIMG, Data to Insight and the NCER are hosting a free online conference titled "Strategic Use of Data in Children's Services" between 14:00 and 16:50 on 4 February 2021, supported by the Local Government Association.


You can see full details of the programme here – for NPIMG/Data to Insight, I'll be helping out with contributions to the following talks:

  • Our seat at the table: How NPIMG supports local children’s services performance work on a national scale

  • Unlocking your statutory datasets: how to increase the value of data you already have

  • Six hundred colleagues: resource-pooling for rapid and responsive data development

If any of that sounds interesting, you can register here (Eventbrite) and tune in for the whole thing or just the bits you want to see. We hope to make the sessions useful for data people and for social care people too, so please feel free to forward the invitation locally if you can think of someone who might want to come along.



4. ChAT and BMt mini-updates


In December the DfE put out an update to their "Looked After Children" data release, appending missing data items relating to care leavers and placement stability.


Those data items are now included in the latest versions of the ChAT and Benchmarking Tool (versions 6.1 and 3.11 respectively). The ChAT's main report is also now updated to show 2019-20 data on the Benchmarking sheet (page 23).



5. www.datatoinsight.org


I’m taking feedback from people who’ve taken a look at our forthcoming new website (planned to replace the khub site). We’ll be looking to launch the website towards the end of February/start of March.


This month, then, can you please check that you can access www.datatoinsight.org from your local authority network? If you can’t access this page, please contact your IT support team to add it to your local “whitelist” so that you can access it. This will be where we host our data tools in future, so at some point (but not immediately!) you’ll need to be able to access this site to get a copy of the ChAT and other tools.


If you’re interested, there’s a blog post outlining the key features here, and if you’d like to register for an account and help test the members-only areas of the site before we start using it in earnest, please feel free to do so.



6. Other things in the works


Smaller Excel files – some of our tools are starting to get very big, in terms of file size. I’m working on a “Cut the ChAT” tool which takes your full ChAT and generates an email-friendly copy, either of just the main report (1MB) or including flat versions of the child-level lists which are much quicker to filter/sort (6MB). Separately, Gary in Medway has been working on a version of the COVID ChAT which cuts the file size dramatically without affecting the look and feel of the tool. It’s looking promising, and we’re planning to share his version of the tool and see if it works for people, before looking to apply similar changes to the other tools too.


Projects – we’re applying for funding to take the demand modelling project forward and make it more useful to LAs, and for a project to replicate the DfE’s SSDA903 validation checks in a Python tool, which any LA can use without installing anything locally. On this one, instead of paying developers to make us a tool, we’re proposing to help LA analysts learn how to write some of the Python code themselves, as an opportunity to convert one-off funding into new skills for colleagues. We don’t know if we’ll get money to support these things yet, but if either sounds like something you’d like to help with, let me know (if you’ve already been in touch, don’t worry – I still have your details).


Slack and Trello – alongside the website, I’m looking at using Trello to host our development plans in the open, and ensure everyone can suggest features and have input into how we prioritise development work. For those projects where we have multiple colleagues in different LAs already contributing time, we’re experimenting with Slack as a way to facilitate development conversations. The general idea is that you can choose to see different levels of information based on what level of engagement you want with the different bits of our work – more on this soon, hopefully! In the meantime feel free to email me with ideas or offerings.



7. Credits


Credit for the Demand Modelling Tool 2.0 is due to colleagues in the following organisations:


Brighton & Hove Council

Calderdale Council

Data to Insight

Department for Education

East Sussex County Council

Greater Manchester Combined Authority

Kent County Council

Manchester City Council

Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government

Ofsted

Social Finance

Slough Borough Council

Stockport Council

Walsall Council

Wandsworth Borough Council

Wigan Council

Wiltshire Council


Credit for the ChAT and BMt updates is due to colleagues at:


Data to Insight

Wandsworth Borough Council

Department for Education


Credit for the COVID ChAT is due to colleagues at:


East Sussex County Council

Medway Council


Special thanks also to the following LAs who have chipped in with advice, bug fixes, testing support, and other such help over the last few weeks:


Manchester City Council

Surrey County Council

Dorset Council

Ealing Borough Council

Birmingham City Council

Waltham Forest Borough Council



That’s it! If you have any comments, queries or ideas that you want to share, just let me know.

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