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2 weeks with the Good Practice Team

I cannot count the number of GPT-lead seminars and training sessions that I have attended since joining the GSS in 2016 (an inability to count may be why I’ve needed to go to so many)!

These courses and seminars have been a staple of my learning and development diet, and been a pleasant way of racking up those CPD hours each year. I realised there was clearly only one logical next step for such a Big Fan™ of the GPT’s work: complete immersion within the good practice world. Or, as others might call it, a two-week secondment.

Right from the start, the team were really welcoming and helpful, and happy to give me a flavour of the range of things they are involved in. I sat in on an ONS staff talk with John Pullinger, attended an RSS User Forum to see how key users feedback about the statistics they use, and quizzed someone from the OSR on their views on the Code of Practice and National Statistics badging. I’d listed my main area of interest as presentation and dissemination, and they made sure that my fortnight with them included two projects which dealt with just that:

Guidance on writing statistical reports

I was tasked with consolidating the many best practice guidance documents which exist on the GSS website concerning the writing of statistical reports. There was a lot to read, and a lot of repetition. However, bringing together all of the key messages from the guidance documents to create one comprehensive guide has taught me a lot about best practice. Personally, I’m hoping that I have now absorbed all the guidance, and that it will filter down subconsciously into all my statistical publications, without me even having to think about it. Fingers crossed.

RAG review of statistical releases

The team were looking to restart the process of reviewing statistical releases. My secondment was timed just right for me to help test the waters. They picked out five statistical releases from across the GSS, and drafted some new assessment criteria. It was my job to use the criteria to review the five releases, and feedback on both the releases and the criteria/review process itself. This project was fairly challenging – I would confidently rate one release, and then completely change my mind after assessing the next one. It was also trickier than I expected to remain objective – I had to remind myself not get hung up on one aspect that I did or didn’t like. This project was useful in that it gave me time to explore the various statistical reports published across government, and get some ideas for my own publications – which is something I wouldn’t have found the time for usually!

I really enjoyed my two weeks with the Good Practice Team. It was interesting to see what the team does and how they work – especially as they are all frequently travelling across the country to do their jobs! It was also great to get hands on experience with the kind of work they do, and I have come away with loads of ideas for improving my own statistics publications – and a signature GPT mug, of course!

One top tip I would give to GSS colleagues is to look at how other departments do things in their publications – in some cases it’s given me a really strong basis to challenge others in my team as to how things are done in our publications, and to reconsider what we thought we were allowed or able to do.

I would definitely recommend the experience to others. It had a really positive impact on the rest of my team! I fed back to them all the things I’d learnt and this really motivated everyone to think about improving presentation and dissemination in our own publications, and we agreed to make the time to hold our own mini-scrums every two months on a different publication internally.

We each go away and review the publication by ourselves, and then get together to discuss how to improve the release. After meeting to share ideas and thrash out the tricky parts, one of us goes away to make all the changes and – hey presto, we (hopefully) have a better publication!

Coming to the GPT on secondment and then sharing that experience with my team meant that instead of passively bearing in mind the need to improve our releases, we are actively working to change them for the better.

Francesca Allerton

Fire, Licensing & Public Order Analysis Unit

Home Office

Are you interested in a GPT secondment? We’d like to hear from you!