January spotlight on statistical work in Scotland
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In my first blog as Chief Statistician, I spoke about the vital role statistics play in enriching the evidence base. I am passionate about the role statisticians can make to develop better policies for the people of Scotland. In Autumn 2022, I followed up by setting out our mission across the statistical community to further engagement with statistics (‘the more the speak, the more trusted we become’). I also spoke about fulfilling our role as leaders with our evidence and analysis.
In January alone, I have seen a hive of activity across Scotland’s producers of statistics and how putting statistics in the spotlight can provide the context of our lived experiences. Below is a small sample of this work:
Award for National Records of Scotland (NRS) communications work- including the BBC Documentary ‘Who lives in Scotland’
National Records of Scotland have been leading the way over the past year by bringing to life demographic statistics. Their work on the BBC documentary ‘Who lives in Scotland’ built on their innovative annual summary publication on Scotland’s population.
Their work shows that when we push the boundaries the public will engage with our statistics. The more statisticians speak the more the public will trust our statistics.
This fantastic work was recognised last week with the NRS Demographic Statistics Team winning the UK Analysis in Government Award for Communication. This is the the second year running that the team has received this award. The announcement was accompanied by a message of congratulations from Professor Sir Ian Diamond. My congratulations also go to the team for their ongoing dedication to showcase statistics and analysis in this area.
Education Data in Scotland: Developing Data Linkage Research for policy and public good
Earlier this month, I was delighted to attend an event run by our Administrative Data Research (ADR) Scotland programme on Education Data in Scotland. The event showcased the data available for linkage based research and some early research insights on education and children’s outcomes from academics.
Scotland is fortunate to have some of the best public sector data in the world. By linking data together and supporting research, we can enhance the evidence base that informs policy. I was encouraged to hear details of the initial academic research and see the discussions amongst researchers and policy about the data available from the Scottish Government in this area. I look forward to seeing more events like this from the ADR Scotland programme in future.
Publication of Management Information and official statistics sources on statements related to pressures facing the NHS
On 9 January, the First Minister made a public statement on Pressures facing the NHS following a meeting of the Scottish Government resilience committee (SGoRR). There was a subsequent update in the statement on 16 January to provide an update on pressures facing the NHS.
Some of the data used for these statements was management information, provided for operational purposes and informs the Scottish Government Resilience Room (SGoRR).
This week, we published a summary on the management information, alongside sources for published statistics used in these circumstances. It provides details on the regularity of publication from the multiple sources and gave notes on how the figures are interpreted. I warmly welcome the publication of this valuable summary. It provides a clear overview of the range of information and sources utilised to inform these statements.
Statistical Community Groups
Lastly, I’m heartened by the response in January to our call for expressions of interest to join our Statistical Community Groups. Open to any analyst or statistician working across the Scottish Government and associated bodies, these groups will become the place where we further develop our working practices. They will also consider our mechanisms for leading in evidence and analysis and how we use our voices to influence others. The Statistical Community Groups will support everyone to have a voice in how we operate from the moment they enter our profession.
We will be confirming the membership of each of the groups over the next few weeks. I look forward to seeing their input into key areas take shape throughout the next year.
Fundamental in continuing to improve engagement and development of our statistics is getting an external perspective. I spoke recently about the role that ethics plays. And I will blog again soon about the way in which we will get external advice from senior figures in academia, communities, and the private sector to keep us on our toes but also increase our voice so that when we speak, we increase trust in our statistics.
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