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D2I news for May: Predictions, policy inputs, and parties...

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. Statutory return prediction tools – now ready for 2022

  2. Apprenticeships – last call for 2022 applications

  3. Placement demand modelling – public beta

  4. Care review recommendations

  5. British Data Awards – we won!

  6. Credits

1. Statutory return prediction tools – now ready for 2022

The statutory returns predictors are now both updated to work with this year’s SSDA903 and CIN Census output formats. We’ve also updated the benchmarking tables to include the 2020-21 national data. To use the SSDA903 tool, you need the CSV child-level outputs from the return site. To use the CIN Census tool you need the summary reports from COLLECT. There are instructions on the first tabs of each tool, but just let us know if you run into any problems. The trickiest bit for most users seems to be sorting the lists appropriately in the SSDA903 tool, so do read those instructions carefully if you’re getting an error message.

We know there is an additional CIN plans module in the CIN Census this year and unfortunately haven’t yet been able to incorporate this into the CIN tool, but will look to do so before the return closes.

If you are working with either tool then do let us know about any bugs or unexpected behaviour you find so we can put these right for all users.

2. Apprenticeships – last call for applications

Applications for the third cohort of our Children’s Services Data Analyst apprenticeship remain open until 31/05/2022, so there’s time to get an application in if you’re interested. As mentioned in the last newsletter, we hope to run two different levels of the apprenticeship for this cohort: a repeat of the L4 Data Analyst course, and also supplementing with a L3 Data Professional course. While the L4 is getting another great response, the L3 has had fewer applications to date, so I’d be interested to hear from anyone who considered it and decided against it. We’ll be in touch with applicants soon to discuss next steps.

The application form is here on the D2I website, along with supporting materials, and we’re also running two final mop-up briefing sessions as follows:

Wednesday 25th May at 10am (Level 4 course)

Thursday 26th May at 11am (Level 3 course)

To book onto a briefing session, ask for a separate chat, submit your completed application form, or ask about anything else, please get in touch by email.

3. Placement demand modelling – public beta

We’re working on developing a more user-friendly version of the placement demand modelling tool, and using this to lay the groundwork for a regional placement forecasting tool to be developed this year in partnership with a number of regional commissioning groups. I’ve already talked at length in these newsletters about the project, but I wanted to alert people that we’ll be moving to “public beta” for this tool from around the 16th June onwards, so keep an eye out for word on that.

If you’d particularly like to join an initial launch session on the 16th and provide a bit of “first impressions” feedback, let me know, otherwise I’ll be advertising where to find the tool as soon as its available and inviting feedback by all the usual channels.

4. Care review recommendations

This week saw the publication of the independent review of children’s social care’s final report. I contributed to this for Data to Insight via interviews with the review team, trying to present the variety of local authority views on the challenges and opportunities of data work in our sector, and outlining some of the successes we’ve seen and why they worked well. Some of this has found its way into the final report. There's a lot to digest in there and we'll all presumably be figuring out what it means in practice for the foreseeable future, but one recommendation worth paying attention to as data professionals is that government establish a National Data and Technology Taskforce.

There’s also a very positive mention of D2I in relation to this (see copy below, emphasis mine), which recommends that the proposed taskforce should work with our existing LA networks to help data work and increase collaboration between LAs and central government. So that's interesting. There’s more detail in the full report and its various appendices, which I’m sure we’ll have more to say about once we’ve all had time to digest it.

“Some work has been done in recent years to improve local use of data, for example through the Data to Insight programme, which has helped local authorities to develop and maintain tools to make better use of their data. This has included the development of the ‘ChAT’, which uses Annex A data that local authorities already collect for Ofsted, to enable them to generate usable and real time data outputs that aids decision making.118 However, there is more to do to make these tools mainstream and deploy them effectively across local authorities. The Taskforce should work closely with Data to Insight to disseminate and continue this work across local authorities, and look for other opportunities where national coordination might help. This might include supporting usage of analytical software, reviewing data standards and management, preventing unnecessary duplication of effort in analytical tasks, and reviewing local authorities' access to useful data held by DfE.”

5. British Data Awards – we won!

If you follow D2I’s Twitter or LinkedIn accounts, you’ll have spotted that Data to Insight was shortlisted at the impressively-named British Data Awards 2022. The ceremony happened last week, and we won the award for “Data for Good Initiative of the Year”!

While the value of what we’re doing isn’t altered by winning or losing things like this, the award is a great credit to all the colleagues around the country who make this programme work. Staff, colleagues, contributors, board members, partners, regional leads, funders, apprentices, and of course users, all deserve congratulations. Some colleagues have reasonably enquired as to why they didn’t receive an invitation to the event, and I’m sorry to say I don’t know – my only guess is that there are simply too many people involved in D2I to fit them all in one room, and the organisers wanted to leave some space for the other finalists.

6. Credits

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

London Councils


Richmond and Wandsworth

East Sussex






Credit for the successful bid to fund the further placement demand modelling work is due to colleagues in:

East Sussex County Council


DLUHC Local Digital Collaboration Unit

Social Finance

Credit for the British Data Awards surprise is due to:

Everyone, really! Thanks very much for continuing to help make this work for local authorities.

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

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