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D2I news for March: sharing, standards, and a short list of shortlists

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. RIIA Quarterly – Q3 benchmarking tool

  2. ChAT and BMt – SW workforce data

  3. CIN Census validation tool

  4. Patch and Python learning

  5. Standard Safeguarding Dataset – gathering your thoughts

  6. Shortlists for LGC Awards and iNetwork Awards

  7. Upcoming events – open house and core tools workshop

  8. Credits

1. RIIA Quarterly Benchmarking Tool – Q3 benchmarking tool

The newly standardised RIIA quarterly data collection is up and running for in-year national benchmarking, and this is the third of our quarterly data releases. it takes a little while (up to around 70 seconds) to recalculate when you first select your LA and region from the home page, but thereafter it should run smoothly.

  • (2023 Q3 v1.1) Updated all hard-coded Q2 references to Q3

  • (2023 Q3 v1.1) Added in Q3 data for all regions

We’re also gathering feedback on possible further changes to definitions or measures for next reporting year – we’ll be in touch via ADCS, regional networks and the NPIMG in the coming weeks to agree any changes, and will update the collection sheet accordingly prior to Q1 collection next year (for the Q4 collection in April, nothing is changing).

2. ChAT and BMt – SW workforce data

On Thursday 23/02/2023 the DfE published the outturn of their most recent Social Work Workforce survey, and we’ve now pulled these data items into the Benchmarking Tool and ChAT. Links are above to download the updated versions, and patch notes are copied below so you can check for any other changes.

Benchmarking Tool:

· (3.30) Added Ofsted judgements

· (3.30) Added LAD2.29 to CLA Ceased data

· (3.30) Added Workforce data 2021-2022


  • (7.04) Ofsted inspection data updated to 23/12/22 (publication date - with thanks to Sheffield City Council for compiling)

  • (7.04) Added bank holiday for coronation of King Charles III (8th May)

  • (7.04) Added 24/25 Bank Holidays

  • (7.04) Corrected chart labelling p22 comparisons

  • (7.04) Bug fixes

  • (7.04) Added LAD2.22 2.42 (workforce data) to DataALLLAS (no impact on charts etc)

  • (7.04) Lookups added as requested

3. CIN Census Validation Tool

We’ve reached the point we’re going to call the CIN validation tool “live”!

This is definitely an initial release with room for improvement, but several LAs have commented that now would be a good time for them to take a look at this as part of their CIN Census return process, so we’re sharing the link and welcoming feedback.

The tool should do the same data validation as the DfE’s CIN Census return site. It’s worth a look because it will run year-round, meaning you can schedule data quality work at your convenience. It was built by LA analysts using Python and Pyodide, which means it takes no data off site, and requires no installation of software to use it – everything runs in your local browser. The project was a collaborative effort hosted by Wigan Council, with technical expertise from D2I and Social Finance, and volunteer coders from around a dozen LAs (credits below), so to see the tool go live is great evidence in favour of this way of working, and all involved deserve hearty congratulations. If you spot anything that looks wrong, do send us an email so we can check it.

4. PATCh and Python learning

Following on from the CIN tool going live, we’re pushing forward with Python, helping LA analysts develop beyond the data validation code and into analysis and visualisation. We’re calling the new tool “PATCh”, or Python Analysis Toolkit for Children’s Services (following the ChAT approach to acronyms). What it will do is provide people with a method for coding up new data analysis against their local standard datasets, borrowing bits of existing code where available, and producing new visualisations which can then be hosted for colleagues to use via a web browser – again, with no software installation or data sharing required.

With that in view, do get in touch if you’d be interested in getting involved. We’ve got guidance on getting started with Python without installing software locally, drop-in sessions for help with learning to code, and a team of LA volunteers meeting to agree the first target outputs for the tool. Once the first version is live, I’ll be in touch again with a link to the tool itself.

5. Standard Safeguarding Dataset – gathering your thoughts

Wednesday 29th March at 13:00

Thursday 30th March at 14:00

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’ll be kicking off with user research this month, before beginning collaborative design of the dataset specification over the summer.

To help gather initial perspectives, we’re holding two workshops on the above-noted dates - email us if you'd like an invitation.

At the workshops we’ll run through the kinds of data we know we collect, and the kinds of outcomes or insight we think people are interested in getting from data, and we’ll use some kind of survey tool to gather the group’s perspective. There’ll also be plenty of time for conversation so we can get as good a sense as possible of what people think a new dataset should look like.

We’re partway through recruiting to lead data development on this work, and we’ll continue to keep in close contact with everyone as we develop a specification iteratively, with plenty of opportunities for further feedback. I really want to stress the importance of ensuring this project works towards target outputs that work for all LAs and help us do better data work to support vulnerable children and families, so any thoughts along the way will be most gratefully received.

6. Shortlists for LGC Awards and iNetwork awards

We’re finalists in two sets of awards at the moment – the iNetwork awards winners will be announced on 16th March, and the LGC Awards on the 8th of June

  • Our project with Wigan Council (and co-conspirators from around a dozen other councils!), to develop the SSDA903 validation tool and this year’s coming CIN validation tool, is on the list of nominations for the iNetwork awards in their iStandUK data standards category

  • Our D2I service as a whole is a finalist in two categories – “Digital Impact” and “Innovation” at the LGC Awards this year

These are testament to how useful the stuff we do is, and how valuable everyone’s contributions are to making life easier and outputs better in our data work. Congratulations are deserved by all our colleagues who’ve been involved in this work in whatever way.

7. Upcoming workshops and presentations – next open house

We’ll be running another D2I “open house” team meeting on 15th March at 13:00 – this is an informal meeting where we bring along a couple of interesting (to us) technical or strategic challenges we’ve been working on and share our working with the D2I team. It’s open to all LA colleagues to come along and listen in, join the conversation, or suggest things they’d like to share from their own work. If you’d like to join us for this or future meetings, just email us.

If you have something interesting you’d like to share at the meeting, we’d really welcome that – just let us know how much time you’d want to talk through it.

We also ran an introduction session to our core tools last month, and it was so well-received that we’re going to run it again on a periodic basis for newcomers or anyone who needs a refresher – with the next one probably later this year. The session is designed to give an overview of the tools and how to get the most out of them, and will be of particular interest if you have colleagues new to children’s services data, or data/performance work in general, as well as anyone who just doesn’t “get” one or other of our tools. For an invitation, please email us.

8. Credits

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

Waltham Forest





East Sussex


Achieving for Children




North Northamptonshire

West Northamptonshire









Cheshire West and Chester

Social Finance



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

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