Ofsted undertook a review of its statistical publications to ensure that they continue to meet user needs. Ofsted engaged with internal and external users to understand more about their production processes and how they support internal and external uses of Ofsted statistics. The review considered a range of themes that are important to ensuring that statistics provide public value including:
- The balance of official statistics, management information and statistical stories in meeting user needs
- The expansion of the range of statistics and data it publishes to meet emerging user demands
- Technical elements such as the platform that they are hosted on and the usefulness for its current tabulation tool versus APIs.
Ofsted collected feedback, which is summarised in a published report, from various user surveys and focus groups, and focussed on the following main questions:
- Which of our statistical publications do you use?
- How often do you use these publications?
- For what purpose do you use these publications?
- Do you read the commentary in the official statistics or mostly use the datasets?
- How easy is it to find what you need, when you need it?
- Which elements of the publications could we improve, and how?
- Is there any other data that you think we should publish more frequently?
Ofsted reviewed the Code of Practice for Statistics and relevant legislation to be clear about what it must do, as a government organisation, and what it could or should do. It also engaged with the OSR domain team throughout to seek their input and keep them up to date with progress.
The evidence gathered from the review enabled Ofsted to create capacity to develop new statistical stories around its management information, through reducing the frequency of some official statistics products. It also helped Ofsted to take decisions on the future of its data exploration tool, Data View, and the platform on which its statistics are hosted.
The Director General of OSR wrote to Ofsted’s Head of Profession for Statistics to commend them on the review. He stated that he would encourage all statistics producers to undertake these types of activities, particularly at times of increased user demand and pressure on resources, to ensure that they continue to meet user needs.
Ofsted has started to implement changes based on the review. For example, it has published its first extended MI statistical commentary and reduced the frequency of one of its social care releases based on user need. It has also begun work to look at a DataView replacement, including a further user survey of future need. Ofsted’s post-inspection survey data, which was one of the identified areas of user interest, is also due for future publication.
This example highlights how Ofsted ensures that users of its statistics and data remain at the centre of statistical production, by openly engaging with users through various means during a period of review. This enables Ofsted to refresh its understanding of the main uses of its statistics, consider new user demands, and ensure that various uses of its statistics and data are supported.