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D2I news for June: Downloads, deadlines, and discussions...

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 me know what you’re thinking about.

  1. Minor updates to several data tools

  2. Apprenticeship deadline

  3. Demand modelling – download data request

  4. Case study: open source data analysis in councils

  5. Workshop: data modelling in children’s services

  6. Credits

1. Minor updates to several data tools

Thanks to everyone who’s been busily reporting bugs (and in some cases identifying fixes), there are a few more minor updates to tools now live on the website. None of these represent major functionality changes, so check the version notes below and download any which are relevant to your work.

SSDA903 Stat Returns Predictor 2.2021c

  • Fixed a few formulae which seem to have altered themselves at some point

CIN Census Stat Returns Predictor 1.2021d

  • Added Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole to calculations

  • Amended input for assessment factors 18 and 19 B and C (output remains combined so as to allow comparison with previous years)

ChAT 6.9

  • Switched school pupil %s on p22 to show 1 decimal place, to better demonstrate small cohorts

  • Corrected Colum AGU in Data_AllLAs (matched CLA for SEN purposes) and derived calculations (affects 2019 dataset)

  • Amended warning note in ChaT_MONTHLY re-referrals chart to make explicit that this does not currently work well - typically overcounts. Requires further investigation.

Benchmarking Tool 13.6

  • Corrected Colum AGU in Data_AllLAs (matched CLA for SEN purposes) and derived calculations (affects 2019 dataset)

2. Apprenticeship deadline

If you’ve been undecided about whether to apply for the Data to Insight apprenticeship’s September 2021 cohort, now’s the time to decide – the application deadline is June 25th. Please contact us if you or one of your team members would like an application form.

If you are already intending to apply but something is holding you up, just let us know and we may be able to hold a place open for you depending on the circumstances. We know summer can be an awkward time to get things sorted with colleagues in other council depts, but we think we’ve left a good gap between applications in June and beginning learning in September, which should give us time to iron out most issues.

3. Demand modelling – download data request

I reported in May that our demand modelling project is focusing on LAC placement activity. The goal will be to develop a tool which LAs can use locally with their statutory return data and latest Annex A data to better understand trends in demand for placements, and how to segment the broad dataset to get more detailed insights and forecasts.

I asked last month if you could download historical XML files from the SSDA903 site in readiness for this, because you won’t be able to do this once the return site closes for the year. As we work on the tool, we begin to suspect that some other things might also be useful:

  • Essential for the tool: Please download XML and CSV files for previous years’ SSDA903 returns – the last 5 years ideally

  • Desirable for the tool: Please download any files available in COLLECT relating to previous years’ CIN Census returns as far back as the 1718 return

These are great things to keep safe locally anyway, as you can use them to easily respond to FOI requests without contradicting published data, and to perform various ad hoc analyses. If you don’t see previous CIN Census returns on your COLLECT portal, this may be because someone else at your LA completed those returns. If you can’t track that person down, you can make a DfE service request to get access to the previous years’ returns. But rest assured the core tool will function without these if you can’t get them.

If you want to get involved in the project or keep a closer eye on it, join our Slack and follow the "proj-demand_modelling" channel.

4. Case studies: open source data analysis in councils

Across the apprenticeship scheme and the project we’re about to launch to do SSDA903 in-year data cleaning using Python (more news on that next month), we’ve started bumping into IT colleagues at various LAs who have reservations about installing open source software like Python for children’s services analysts. Last month I met with James Rapkin at Southend Borough Council to discuss Southend’s open source journey, and we’ve developed that conversation into a case study which may be interesting, and indeed useful, if you’re trying to make a case locally for experimenting with new tools to support your work.

You can download a copy here: D2I Case Studies 001: Open Source Data Analysis in Councils (

I’ve titled this as the first in a series, because I think there’s real potential in this kind of documentation of success stories to help you get things done. If you have an idea for a subject you’d like to see covered, please do let me know.

5. Workshops: data modelling in children’s services

As part of Digital Leaders Week we ran a collaborative workshop with colleagues from Dudley, East Sussex and Surrey, providing a selection of presentations showing different things we were doing with data modelling locally. You can watch a recording of the Teams meeting here: Data to Insight Forum #1: Data Modelling in Children's Services - YouTube

We had presentations on the following topics, followed by 20 minutes of lively discussion fuelled by questions from attendees.

  • Data to Insight’s journey from COVID demand modelling to CLA placement modelling

  • Modelling and prediction in Dudley

  • SEND modelling in East Sussex

  • Modelling pathways through CSC in Surrey

Again, this feels like a great way to share knowledge across local boundaries, so I’d like to run more of these; I’m planning to host the next one in September. If you have ideas for a subject you’d like to see covered, or something you’d like to present and discuss with peers from other councils, please do let me know.

6. Credits

Credit for the data tool updates this month is due to colleagues in the following organisations:

Buckinghamshire County Council

Croydon Council

West Berkshire County Council

Thurrock Council

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council

Isle of Wight Council

Tower Hamlets Borough Council

Waltham Forest Borough Council

Bolton Council

City of York Council

Credit for the apprenticeship course is due to colleagues in the following organisations:

Too many LAs to count, but especially Walsall Council who provided “dummy” datasets for learners to use

Credit for progress on the demand modelling project this month is due to colleagues in the following organisations:

Birmingham Children’s Trust

Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council

Surrey County Council

East Sussex County Council

Social Finance

Credit for the open source case study is due to colleagues in the following organisations:

Southend Borough Council

Credit for the Digital Leaders Week workshop is due to colleagues in the following organisations:


East Sussex County Council

Surrey County Council

Dudley Metropolitan 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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