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Release Calendar Guidance

This page gives guidance to Producers of official statistics on producing a release calendar entry on GOV.UK. All National Statistics releases should be pre-announced through this website. This includes press or news releases, first releases, statistical bulletins, reports, tables, databases, briefing notes, and other publications that fall under the UK Code of Practice.

The release calendar on GOV.UK is managed by Government Digital Service (GDS) and from 30 September 2014 became the main website for announcing statistical publications. Its predecessor the Publication Hub was decommissioned from this date.

GDS are responsible for providing training to government departments to give them the necessary access to publish on the GOV.UK release calendar

The Code of Practice for Official Statistics (Protocol 2, Practice 2) says that producers of official statistics must:

Ensure that all National Statistics can be accessed from the National Statistics Publication Hub.Code of Practice for Official Statistics

Note: The release calendar replaces the Publication Hub so producers should now use this. The guidance which follows is currently being reviewed to reflect the circumstances of all government departments.

Producers of official statistics must take the following actions when they publish links to National Statistics releases on the release calendar.

  • Ensure the release calendar provides an up-to-date list of your scheduled releases for the year ahead.
  • Provide links to the statistical area of your department’s website as detailed in the guidance below.
  • If your department is unable to update the release calendar remotely, because of a technical issue (having received training from GDS) you should approach GDS.
  • Ensure that new releases are contained on a statistical release page, separate from other departmental content and following the guidelines below.

Background

All new National Statistics produced by the Government Statistical Service (GSS) (unless covered by separate arrangements because of devolved responsibilities) should be announced through the release calendar. GOV.UK currently publishes departments statistical releases and provides links to publications on department websites.


Presentation

The release calendar is designed for the general public as well as the media and experts. You must consider that its users may not have come across your statistics before and may not be experts in the use of statistics.

Text must be written in plain English with succinct titles that clearly describe the statistics in a non-technical way.  Headlines must be proofread for clarity and consistency of style. All entries for the release calendar will require sign off by the Head of Profession for Statistics, an authorised deputy or their equivalent.

Once a release has been signed off it should be considered final and not subject to change.


Timing of release

The Code of Practice for Official Statistics (Protocol 2, Practice 3) says that producers of official statistics should

Issue statistical releases at the standard time of 9:30 am on a weekday, to maintain consistency and to permit time for users to understand and respond to the information during normal working hours.Code of Practice for Official Statistics

Departments must adopt the release time of 9:30 am, and ensure it is used on the Release Calendar.

The actual date and time for a release should be supplied no later than one month in advance of the release date. However, there may be exceptional circumstances where this is not possible.  In these cases, transparency to users should be considered and a firm date provided as soon as possible.  For further help producers can refer to section 2.1 and 2.2 of the Code of Practice guidance or contact the Good Practice Team.

Release dates should not be changed once the findings of new statistics are available. This is to ensure no perceived political advantage can be obtained.


Branding of statistics

To ensure that statistical releases are seen as being part of a single statistical system, and to provide reassurance to the public, a standard format for pages that hold National Statistics releases has been developed.

  • There should be a single release page for each release, with links to relevant publications.
  • The page must not have any political or departmental comment.
  • It should not contain links to any political parts of the department’s website, except a link back to the departmental home page, normally through the departmental logo.
  • The statistical release page will sit on departmental websites and should use the logos, colours and style of their ‘home’ website. However there should be standard structure and content as listed in the table below and according to the example of statistical release page.

This format can be used for other official statistics, such as experimental statistics and methodological articles. These releases, if pre-announced, should be announced through the release calendar.


Standard structure and content for statistical release pages

This guidance is being reviewed as a result of the introduction of the new release calendar. However, in the main it remains correct. If you have any queries please contact the Good Practice Team

Item What is this Example if appropriate
National Statistics Quality Mark The National Statistics Quality Mark must be included to indicate that this release is a National Statistic and has met the standards set by the UK Statistics Authority.The quality mark must not be used for any release that is not a designated National Statistic (although other aspects of the standard release page may be used, as appropriate).The quality mark should be at the top right of the release page.The quality mark should be linked to the page on the UK Statistics Authority website that describes the purpose of the quality mark. EnglishNational Statistics Quality Mark BilingualBilingual Quality Mark
Departmental logos The logos in a standard location on the page (normally top left).It would be appropriate for this link to be hyperlinked to take users to the departmental home page, but no other political links would normally be included on a statistical release page.
Introductory statement A statement recognising the oversight functions of the UK Statistics Authority and the department’s responsibility for resourcing and production.This should be the first piece of unique text on the page, in order to emphasise that this is a standard statistical release page, and applying the standards set by UK Statistics Authority and independent of departmental political comment. For example:The latest National Statistics on [INSERT SUBJECT] produced by [INSERT DEPARTMENT] were released on [INSERT DATE] according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority…
Summary A second sentence should then describe the purpose of these statistics, or the subject they measure. It would be appropriate to provide key bullet points (for example, from the executive summary) of the statistical release.This summary should refer to the period covered by the statistics and also the geographic coverage of the statistics, for example, specify ‘UK’, ‘GB’, ‘England’, ‘England and Wales’, ‘Wales’, ‘Scotland’, ‘Northern Ireland’, ‘for the English regions’, ‘for Local Authorities in England’ and so on. For example:Statistics on [INSERT SUBJECT} for [INSERT GEOGRAPHIC COVERAGE] are published as [INSERT TITLE] and include data from…. covering…The latest statistics report on the period [xxxxx] and update those previously released on [dd mon yyyy].The key points from the latest release are:
Links Titles and links to all relevant outputs and publications being published as part of this release.Below the links to new outputs, in order to assist users, there should be additional links to any pre-existing or new metadata and guidance about the statistical series (for example, technical reports, guidance or counting rules, Statbase information and so on).At the end of any links, departments may wish to provide a link to further information about the statistics produced by the department (for example, to the statistics home page within the departmental website).
Other Statistical releases should adopt common standards for naming of releases, press notices and any graphical presentation or tables on a release page.Until such time that GSS standards have been agreed, these will be the relevant departmental standards.

The Process

The Code of Practice for Official Statistics (Protocol 2, Practice 2) says:

Publish a timetable of statistical releases for twelve months ahead.Code of Practice for Official Statistics

You should announce this information on the release calendar. The date and time of the release should also be announced no later than one month in advance of publication. Updates and corrections should be published as soon as they are known.

The publishing department must ensure that they have prepared the release according to the structure identified in the above table and that this structure has been authorised by the relevant Head of Profession.

If a department wishes to ‘pull’ or change the information in a release before the publication date, they must provide a statement explaining why.


Step-by-step process

This guidance is currently being reviewed given the introduction of the new release calendar. Please contact the Good Practice Team with queries related to the process.

Step Action for you When Comment
1 Ensure the Release Calendar contains a list of scheduled releases. For 12 months ahead. All departments must supply details of releases a year in advance.All National Statistics releases should be pre-announced and additional non-NS releases should be notified if appropriate, when a release date is known.
2 Prepare your release for publication. As per your normal working practice.
3 Ensure your release has been signed off. No less than 24 hours in advance of release. All releases must be signed off by your Head of Profession, a deputy or equivalent.
4 Check your release. Day and time of release. Ensure your release is made live at the appropriate time on the scheduled date and check that links provided are accurate.