ONS Education Symposium: When education data met speed dating

Teams across the Secure Research Service (SRS) at ONS, together with ADR UK, the Department for Education and the University of Sheffield, organised an Education Symposium at the University of Sheffield in June. The aim of the day was to connect research ideas with emerging policy and research agendas on education to help shape administrative data needs, facilitate collaborative working, and foster longer term impact.

The morning consisted of keynote speakers from the Department for Education and ADR UK highlighting upcoming research priorities and data assets being made available. Next, we moved to the well-received ‘World Café' session. If you haven’t heard of this activity, think speed-dating but the topic is education data, rather than romance!

Five thematic tables each featured an education dataset provided by the ONS Secure Research Service:

Tables were facilitated by an education dataset owner, and attendees moved between them every 11 minutes. This provided a rapid knowledge exchange exercise to discuss data needs. Feedback from this session pointed to the need for more data linkage across the education datasets with crime and health data, echoing requests made in the recent Accredited Researcher Annual User Experience Survey. There were also suggestions around expanding data to incorporate private and home-schooling data.

The afternoon presentations started with the ONS Impact team discussing the use of administrative data in education research. This presentation was based on the first part of the education thematic case study that inspired the event. It looks at how, where, and which education data is being used. Part A of the case study presented at the event identified that Secure Research Service projects on education since December 2011 included 267 researchers from 78 organisations working across 140 projects, using 25 datasets on five core themes. The case study is due to be published by the Secure Research Service Impact team in the autumn.

This was followed by Secure Research Service education data users who showcased their innovative research projects and their experience of using education data managed by the ONS. There was also a panel session with ADR UK Research Fellows using the Ministry of Justice and Department for Education linked data, who shared tips and advice learned during their research journeys. The day finished off with ‘Find out more’ tables and networking, something that was greatly missed during the height of the pandemic.

Delegate Feedback

We received fantastic feedback, with the consensus being the need for more face-to-face networking and perhaps more dataset speed dating too!

“The conversations will really help us progress our work and it’s made such a difference to do these events in person again!” - Holly Bathgate, Lead Analyst, ONS

“It was a great combination of short talks and networking opportunities. The size (as in number of attendees) was also just perfect to allow people to actually talk with almost everyone, but at the same time to have plenty of choice of people to talk to. I also liked the combination of academics, data producers, ONS staff, ADR UK, etc.” - Nadir Zanini, The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual)

“The balance between presentations and opportunities to network was very good. Many people had not met each other in person before the event so there was a very positive ‘vibe’ in the air, and they had opportunities to chat throughout the day. I found myself making introductions which would not have been possible if this was a virtual event.” - Bogusia Wojciechowska, Research & Impact Manager, ADR UK

“It was a really useful and enjoyable day.” - Will Cook, ADR UK Research Fellow

What next?

The Secure Research Service Analytical Impact team will continue to monitor the outputs and outcomes from these education projects, featuring as part of current thematic case study work. If you are working on an education-based project that you think has some real-world impact, we would be happy to work with you to write a case study or include your project in our thematic work. Please contact us at srs.dev-impact@ons.gov.uk.

Join us

The next big Secure Research Service event is Research Capability on 11 October in London. The day is planned by the Secure Research Service Engagement team and will include a workshop from the Impact team on ‘Getting closer to policy’ with the Institute for Government and the Universities Policy Engagement Network. Find out more and register for this free event, celebrating research excellence.

Find out more

To find out more about the ONS Impact and Engagement Teams, visit the ONS website, or contact srs.dev-impact@ons.gov.uk and SRS.Engagement.team@ons.gov.uk. Keep updated by following ONSfocus on Twitter.

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