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D2I news for November/December: 903 errors, national datasets, and new colleagues...

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. SSDA903 Data Validation Tool

  2. ChAT and BMt updates

  3. Funding for 2022-23

  4. Early Help Data Standards

  5. LocalDigital “Spotlight” blog

  6. Credits

1. SSDA903 Validation Tool

SSDA903 Validation Tool (

Our project to collaboratively develop a Python data cleaning tool for the SSDA903 dataset is ready to share its first public version, via the link above. You can use this tool to clean your current year’s SSDA903 dataset mid-year, rather than delaying until the DfE make their return site available.

This is the product of months of work by analysts all over the country, and we’re really excited to have people outside the team start using it. We’re sure there’ll be bugs to catch along the way, and we have a little more coding planned, so please use the feedback link in the tool to let us know if you spot anything untoward.

We’re also holding a launch event this week to give an overview of the tool and the project – this is at 13:30 on Wednesday 8th December - email me if you’d also like an Outlook invitation.

To read more about the tool and the project, check out the blog I’ve posted here.

2. ChAT and BMt updates

I sent out individual mini-updates by email about this, but just in case those didn’t reach you, please note that the ChAT and BMt have both been updated twice in recent months to incorporate the recent CIN and CLA data releases from the DfE.

ChAT | Data to Insight

Benchmarking Tool (BMt) | Data to Insight

I have a nice backlog of error reports from colleagues around the country following these updates, so please bear with me while I work through these, and expect another minor update to each tool later this month. If you do spot anything that looks wrong, let me know by email and I’ll take a look.

I’ve also done a few half hour sessions recently with people who are new to the kind of work we do, and found this has been useful for them in clarifying how to read some of the visualisations and measures in these tools. If you could use a similar conversation, do feel free to get in touch.

3. Funding for 2022-23

In less interesting but very important news, we’re happy to say that our regional performance groups, with help from the DfE’s COVID Recovery Fund, are providing funding to continue Data to Insight through 2022-23, with a goal of using the coming year to develop an ongoing funding model through those regional and national networks.

We plan to use this money to continue doing what we’ve been doing for the last year or so, and to work with the regional groups and other stakeholders to figure out the right way to arrange funding for future years. The priorities will be to keep the core toolkit and community interaction running, and to secure that longer term funding arrangement, but we’ll also be making space for as much conversation as possible about what else should be in the mix – should D2I carry on as it is now, or should we take this opportunity to reassess exactly what we’re here for? Feel free to propose answers (or further questions) as they occur to you!

4. Early Help Data Standards

This year we won a funding grant from the Families Team within DLUHC (formerly MHCLG) to work together across five regional groups to explore and implement some standards for tracking and reporting on early help work. This is a huge and exciting challenge, and the majority of the funding is to pay people to co-ordinate this.

We’ve successfully recruited two new colleagues to lead on this work, and support the core D2I project as well, with start dates in the new year. I’m really excited to introduce them, see where they take the project, and also start pushing some work in their direction.

In the meantime, I’m gathering up key stakeholders for the project. I’ve written out to the signatories from the regions who signed up to the project, but I think there will be people outside of those circles who want to stay informed, so if you’d like me to add you or any of your colleagues onto a mailing list for that project specifically – be they data people or early help service people or whatever else – let me know. I’ve noted the regions who’ve signed up in the “Credits” section below, but we’re happy to keep people outside those regions in the loop too – the more the merrier.

5. LocalDigital “Spotlight” blog

Just in case you didn’t already know enough about D2I to last you a lifetime, you might be interested in this blog post I wrote for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ LocalDigital “Council Spotlight” series.

It’s a fairly broad overview of D2I as a way of working, with a focus on the CLA placement modelling tool we recently shared.

6. Credits

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

North Lincolnshire



Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole








West Sussex



Windsor and Maidenhead

Credit for coding and testing the SSDA903 Validation Tool is due to colleagues in:


Milton Keynes






West Berkshire

Social Finance

And credit for other design work and support on the SSDA903 Validation Tool is also due to colleagues in:




North East Lincolnshire

Brighton and Hove



Isle of Wight


East Sussex


Greater Manchester Combined Authority


Department for Education

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities

Credit for getting the next year’s funding together is due to colleagues in:

All nine regions, with special thanks to East Sussex for continuing to host the project

Credit for the successful DLUHC bid for the early help work is due to colleagues in:

South East Sector Led Improvement Programme (SESLIP)

East Midlands Data Leads Group (EMDLG)

Association of Directors of Children’s Services North West (ADCS-NW)

Eastern Region Early Help Assistant Directors Group

Association of Directors of Children’s Services North East (ADCS-NE)

Waltham Forest


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

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