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D2I news for August: Anniversaries, amendments, additions and aspirations...

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. First year retrospective / next year’s priorities

  2. ChAT and BMt updates

  3. Other tool updates

  4. Demand modelling and quality lac data projects

  5. Future workshops / case studies – please send me your ideas

  6. Credits

1. First year retrospective / next year’s priorities

There are several dates you could pick as the “start” of Data to Insight, but it’s been almost a year since we established a full time central resource to manage the work, and now feels like a good time to take stock. We recently presented our “first year retrospective” report to NPIMG and shared with all LA colleagues via our mailing list so you can take a look, send me any thoughts, and use it locally to explain D2I to colleagues if ever you need to do so.

From this report and discussion surrounding it, we drafted a “2022 deliverables” document setting out key focus areas for the coming year. In its shortest form, you could summarise our intention for the next 12 months to be “focus first on the existing core toolkit, work with regions to map out long term funding, and follow through on our existing commitments”.

I’m really eager to know if you draw the same conclusions and priorities from this as we did – if you have any thoughts or feedback, do let me know.

2. ChAT and BMt updates

Download links: ChAT | Data to Insight / Benchmarking Tool (BMt) | Data to Insight

The latest versions of the ChAT (6.10) and Benchmarking Tool (3.17) now contain the updated adoption scorecards data, as well as some minor tweaks and fixes (many thanks for everyone who chipped in with help on these!) as detailed in the version log tabs of each tool.

We’ve decided not to incorporate the newest mid-year population estimates and pupil characteristics data until the first safeguarding data release from the DfE is available in a couple of months time, so look out for another update soon. I’m also working on a data quality report to incorporate in the separate “Cut the ChAT” tool, so if you’d like to offer ideas or feedback for that, just let me know by email or in our Slack workspace (link below).

3. Other tool updates

Thanks to everyone who’s been busily reporting bugs, identifying fixes, or just going ahead and recoding tools to make them work better, there are a few more updates to tools now live on the website. Some of these are really useful to other LAs, so check the version notes below and take a look at any which seem relevant to your work.

Disproportionality Calculator

  • There’s now a second workbook in this download, which analyses assessment factors in the same way the original workbook analyses cohort membership, so you can investigate any statistical differences in how assessment factors are recorded against children of different ethnicities

Annex A loader

  • This macro-enabled workbook can be configured to load your eleven Annex A lists into one of several D2I tool (including the ChAT) more easily and quickly than doing it manually

  • You can now rename the file and keep separate copies set up for your different destination files

  • You can now use it to populate the Child Selector tool (below)

ILACS Child Selector Tool

  • A tool to analyse Annex A lists and suggest example children for audit / Ofsted preparation

  • Updated and working for lists 1-10 plus three for inspection themes

SSDA903 Statutory Returns Predictor

  • Now includes a tab for the “Admissions” csv from the 903, to properly calculate the admissions figures

  • There may still be an issue with the discharges figures in this tool – if you’re having problems with this, let me know

Ofsted LA Inspection Dashboard

  • Courtesy of Walsall, we’ve added our first link out to a Power BI tool which summarises recent Ofsted LA inspections – I found this hugely interesting to play around with so take a look and see what you think (Walsall are planning to keep this updated as Ofsted publish new reports)

4. Demand modelling and quality lac data projects

The Quality LAC Data project is now up and running, with 24 analysts from 17 LAs working together to code a SSDA903 data validation tool in Python. When it’s done, the tool will be available to all LAs for free, just like our other tools. It runs in browser, so you don’t need to download anything, and it scrutinises data on your computer, so you don’t need to send any data off network (i.e. there are no IG / privacy concerns). Look out for more news later – hopefully by November we’ll be sharing this for LAs to use and tidy up their LAC data year-round, instead of waiting for the SSDA903 site to open each April!

The Demand modelling project is also still powering on; we decided to do one thing well, rather than expand on our existing generic tool, so we’re developing a forecasting tool for LAC placements. We have a couple of LAs working with us and sharing data, then a wider circle who’ve agreed to test things locally without sending us any data, as we go along. If you’d be able to help with that, do let me know – because we’re trying to understand what data models best fit the data, it’s really useful to have multiple LAs involved. All you need is downloads of your recent years’ SSDA903 files, and a bit of time to play with a prototype Excel workbook as and when we share it. Please do get in touch via email or Slack if this is of interest.

5. Future workshops / case studies – please send me your ideas

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

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 this autumn. 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. My backup plan is to run a workshop on “advanced” Excel use, so if you’ve got a case study of somewhere you’ve pushed Excel beyond its normal use cases – maybe you’re using Power add-ins, or you’ve found a way to create a really useful non-standard visualisation, or you’ve got your workbook hooked up to a live data source, or whatever else – then let me know. The format is a series of five minute showcases followed by open chat.

6. Credits

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

East Sussex

Waltham Forest

Isle of Wight


Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole





Richmond and Wandsworth

Milton Keynes

West Berkshire



Tower Hamlets


Credit for recent progress on the demand modelling project is due to colleagues in:



East Sussex

Social Finance

West Midlands Commissioners Group


Richmond and Wandsworth




Credit for the Quality LAC Data project to date is due to colleagues in the following organisations:

Social Finance

Milton Keynes


North East Lincolnshire

Brighton & Hove





Isle of Wight


West Berkshire






That’s it! If you have any comments, queries or ideas that you want to share, just let me know, either by email or via our Slack workspace.

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