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D2I news for November: new DfE data, new website, and more...

Dear all ChAT group members –

As Data to Insight Manager, this year I’ll be leading on support and development for the data tools we host, and for the community we form around them. I’ve been attending regional performance groups to set out my stall and seek feedback, but I appreciate not everyone can attend those groups – if you want to talk about this stuff, by all means reply to this email and let me know what you’re thinking about. In the meantime, I have some updates to offer:

  1. DfE data releases (and ChAT/BMt updates)

  2. CS data analyst apprenticeships

  3. Demand Modelling Tool 2.0 – call for feedback

  4. Credits

  1. DfE data releases (and ChAT/BMt updates)

This year the DfE are rolling out a new data publication platform, which brings with it some changes to the formats in which they publish data. They’ve kindly provided a bit of advance warning about this and some help in preparing for the new data. To get the new data into our tools as quickly as possible, for this year’s data I’m retaining the current data formats in those tools, and converting the new DfE data to match them. Once I’ve got that done and shared the updated ChAT and BMt with you, I can find some time to look at restructuring both tools to work with the data in the format the DfE now publish it, which should make future releases easier to manage.

The CIN release happened today, Thursday 26/11/2020, and the CLA release is expected in December. I’ve just posted an updated copy of the Benchmarking Tool to the ChAT group (email me if you find any issues, and I’ll get to work on them tomorrow), and I’m still aiming to share an updated copy of the ChAT within the next couple of weeks. With that in mind, expect second update to the Benchmarking Tool once the CLA data is published.

Feedback from the regional performance groups has been clear that it would be good to have a dedicated website for Data to Insight which better facilitates the kinds of work we do. We’ve started work on a new home for the project which should provide some better spaces for colleagues to interact, and clearer routes to download data tools. It will still host news and updates, and of course the data tools themselves, but hopefully also better discussion options, a Q&A knowledge base, an interactive jobs board, and ways to let smaller groups of colleagues collaborate on specific projects. And fewer notifications.

Before we go live, can you please check that you can access from your local authority network? If you can’t access this page, please contact your IT support team to add it to your local “whitelist” so that you can access it. This will be where we host our data tools in future, so at some point (but not immediately!) you’ll need to be able to access this site to get a copy of the ChAT and other tools. If you’re interested, there’s a blog post outlining the key features here, and if you’d like to register for an account and help test the members-only areas of the site before we start using it in earnest, please feel free to do so.

To be clear: the KnowledgeHub is still the place to go for updated data tools, for the time being.

  1. CS data analyst apprenticeships

NPIMG is designing a data apprenticeship specifically for children’s services analysts, in partnership with the non-profit Social Finance. The course will cover hard data skills (automating data-churning workflows to save time, matching datasets, conducting elaborate analysis and modelling, data visualisation, etc.) and softer skills (presenting data in an engaging way, pitching findings to different audiences, data ethics, open data collaboration, etc.). All exercises and assignments are designed with children’s services’ activities in mind, to ensure everything is directly relevant to your activities.

The course can be paid by the apprenticeship levy, so would come at no extra cost for your council. The course will launch in the new year and we are collecting expressions of interest. We have received a lot of requests so are considering running multiple cohorts to accommodate for the demand – if you’re interested in joining, make sure to register your interest on our website: You can read more about the apprenticeship in this MJ article and contact Celine Gross ( for any questions.

  1. Demand Modelling Tool 2.0

There’s a series of blog posts (first, second, third) going up on the MHCLG Medium blog about the work Social Finance did with us on the Demand Modelling Tool, which give some insight into the tool’s goals and development process, including some ideas about how collaborative projects work. One thing we really need more of is feedback from people who have been using the tool to inform their work. Good or bad, if you have any experience you could share to help the team who developed it learn from the project, please let me know in reply to this email, or get in touch and we can schedule a call.

One emerging theme in the feedback I’ve received so far is that the tool helped people to quickly model potential increases in referral volumes for November, but they then didn’t see those higher referral volumes actually materialise when November rolled around. Do we have some mistaken assumptions about how lockdown affects social care demand? This might be worth further investigation. We’re thinking about ways we could draw together some research data to better understand what happened in the social care system during this period.

  1. Credits

Credit for the Demand Modelling Tool 2.0 is due to colleagues in the following organisations:

Brighton & Hove Council

Calderdale Council

Data to Insight

Department for Education

East Sussex County Council

Greater Manchester Combined Authority

Kent County Council

Manchester City Council

Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government


Social Finance

Slough Borough Council

Stockport Council

Walsall Council

Wandsworth Borough Council

Wigan Council

Wiltshire Council

Credit for the ChAT and BMt updates is due to colleagues at:

Data to Insight

Wandsworth Borough Council

Department for Education

Special thanks also to the following LAs who have chipped in with bug fixes, testing support, and other such help over the last few weeks while I’ve been settling into the job:

Brighton & Hove Council

Kent County Council

Birmingham City Council

Waltham Forest Council

Islington Council

Medway Borough Council

London Borough of Enfield

York City 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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