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D2I news for July: lots of things...

Dear Data to Insight colleagues –

Please find below another bundle of news, within which I hope you’ll find something of interest. As always, 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 reply to this email and let us know what you’re thinking about.


  1. Patch – new analysis tools

  2. Early Help Quarterly Collection – time to send us your data

  3. Standard Safeguarding Dataset – two calls for contributors

  4. D2I Apprenticeship – interest check

  5. RIIA Quarterly – Q4 data now available

  6. Annual Report 2022-23

  7. Upcoming events

  8. Credits

1. Patch – new analysis tools



Longstanding colleagues will know we’ve been working on a collaborative coding project producing CIN census and SSDA903 validation tools built by LA analysts and Python learners. The next big output of that project is now live – it’s an in-browser library of analysis “apps”, backed by a GitHub code library to which anyone can contribute further analysis or refinement. There’s also a store of guidance and other information about how to get started developing apps, including video tutorials which are so easy to follow that I’ve used them myself to create a python app.


There are therefore two different audiences for Patch:

  • You might be looking for a way to learn Python without installing tools locally, and this will let you do that and share your analysis outputs with other LAs (without sharing your data!)

  • You might just be looking for free analysis tools you can point at existing datasets – to explore possible disproportionalities in your CSC cohorts, say, or visualise how your Annex A referrals are splitting into CLA/CP/CIN cohorts, etc. – and this will let you do that, without installing anything or sharing any data


The first link above will take you to more information about all of that. The second link will take you directly to the app homepage where you can select a tool and run it. You’ll find it takes a few moments to load in your browser, after which things should be self-explanatory. We’ll keep improving this over the coming months, so if you have any comments, queries, suggestions, or general feedback, please let us know. If you’d like help learning to contribute to it, Will’s also continuing to run his Python workshops and Thursday and Friday afternoons, so get in touch too if you’re interested in those – new learners and old hands are equally welcome.



2. Early Help Quarterly Collection – time to send us your data



Our Early Help Quarterly Collection is now live, following extensive consultation as part of a national project funded by DLUHC’s Families Team Data Accelerator Fund. This is an optional quarterly benchmarking exercise designed to deliver as much value as possible with as little administrative burden. We’re in conversation with DLUHC and ADCS about potential routes to national adoption of some or all of these measures, but, for the time being, only LAs who contribute data to the collection will get access to the benchmarking data.


If your LA wants to take part, now is the time to send us your data for Q1 2023-24 using the above-linked template. Some regions are doing a regional collection, so LAs in those regions should use the appropriate localised templates and your regional co-ordinator will forward the data on to us. In other regions, we have LAs sending data directly to us, and that’s also fine. This collection is open to any LA – not just our original partners for developing the project – and the target date for submissions is Friday 11th August (let us know if you’d like to contribute but will find this date challenging).


Completed returns should reach us by email. Feel free also to contact us for more information about the collection process or the indicators themselves.


3. Standard Safeguarding Dataset – two calls for contributors


We’re helping develop a new standard safeguarding dataset in a national DfE-backed project led by Hertfordshire, Essex, Knowsley, the regional groups for London and the North West, and us in D2I. We’ve completed initial user research and are starting to grapple with defining the new dataset. We’re starting to think about finding partners to work with us on writing and testing data extracts from each of the case management systems that LAs use. We’re also looking to engage on identifying and specifying “new” data items which aren’t in existing data collections (or, indeed, many systems).


  • First, Rob writes with a couple of specific asks for people to get in touch about developing data extracts, including a call for LAs to take on paid work to help the project create data extracts from specific case management systems:

We’re specifically interested in LA input and contributions from anyone currently handling existing data processes, SQL based returns processes and those with insights regarding difficult-to-tell or strategic data stories from current data. We’re inviting involvement from a full range of LA workflows to ensure the project outcomes align with the working processes of all LAs, regardless of team size. This means that smaller (or even single person) teams are especially encouraged to be involved in shaping and enabling this important project. Within the Pilot group, we’re anticipating direction from LA’s who are working with the two major CMS suppliers but input from LA’s using any other CMS would be highly valued towards ensuring the SSD is compatible. Project involvement can be at a level that works for the individual, from ‘subscribe me to updates’, or ‘I have suggestions’ to bringing in your experience and skills on a potentially back-fill funded role through your LA - ‘I’d like to be directly involved in the development’. To get involved in this side of the work, please email.


  • Second, Joe is looking for people to attend workshops to explore potential new data items. If you’d like to be involved, please email and we’ll be in touch with details once we have some dates lined up.


4. D2I Apprenticeship – interest check



Our apprenticeship, delivered in partnership with Corndel, is still going strong with a fourth cohort of analysts now enrolled. The programme is designed to enable local authorities to build data science capability in Children’s Services teams, and empower individual analysts to improve their skills and progress in their careers. It’s fully funded via the Apprenticeship Levy and specifically tailored to help analysts improve children’s services.


The timing for the next launch is dependent on interest, so we’re writing to ask you to register your/your teams interest if you would like to see this development opportunity offered this Autumn/Winter 2023.


Please use the link above to register your interest, if possible before 15th August. Note that this isn’t a commitment to enrol, but a way for us to know whether we have enough interest to justify launching another cohort at this time.



5. RIIA Quarterly – Q4 data now available


As per a separate recent email, we’ve updated the RIIA Quarterly Benchmarking Tool with Q4 data for 2022-23.


  • The new version of the tool has Q4 data from all regions, and updates for previous quarters where provided.

  • It also features a new X Codes comparison feature, where LAs can choose to compare their data to other LAs with the same X Codes. This is done on the X_Codes_Group tab.

  • Please note it can take a while to load and the comparison will only include LAs who have provided exactly the same answer(s) for the selected X code(s). You may want to set calculation to manual while setting up comparisons to avoid recalculation on every individual selection.



6. D2I Annual Report 2022-23



We’ve published our latest annual report summarising recent work and upcoming priorities. This is a key way for D2I to state its case to colleagues around the country and invite feedback and other input on what we should be doing or how we should be operating.


If reading the report inspires any ideas you’d like to share, do get in touch. Everything we do is driven by our understanding of what will be most useful to LAs in improving data work to support vulnerable children, so we rely on colleagues’ input to help keep that understanding accurate. From the new early help dataset to the Python training workshops, our focus this year will be on juggling our various lines of support alongside finding the right ways to pay the bills. For more detail, use the link above to download the full report. As always, thanks are due to everyone for continuing to use D2I tools and community spaces, contribute to projects, and provide feedback to keep improving our toolkit.



7. Upcoming events


(Next open house: Wednesday 19/07/2023 at 13:00)


Our “open house” meeting is a regular chance to drop in on a D2I team meeting where we share what we’re working on and talk about how best to help with data work. We try to cover a mix of “technical” and other work. This week, we’ll run through our work-in-progress to change the care leaver sections of ChAT, and then if we have time we’ll take a quick look at how Patch is shaping up, or discuss SEND benchmarking, or take questions from the group.


As well as the open house, we’re also doing monthly show-and-tell sessions for the “standard safeguarding dataset” project, hosted by colleagues at the DfE. If you’d like to attend either this open house or those show-and-tells, please email and we’ll forward on the relevant invitation(s).



8. Credits

Credit for recent improvements to our data tools and project work is due to colleagues in:


London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole

Reading

Durham

Warwickshire

Brent

Herefordshire

Swindon

Leeds

London Councils

Kent

Gateshead

Stockton

York

Hertfordshire

Essex

Camden

Croydon

Sutton

East Sussex

Rochdale

South Tyneside

Southwark

Cornwall

Ofsted

Derbyshire

ADCS North West

(Everyone who contributed to our recent user research surveys!)


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

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