A common data model for Children's Services DISCOVERY

Project details:

Organisation Greater Manchester Combined Authority
Department GM-Digital
Collaboration Level Open To Conversation
Budget £50K > £100k
Key Contact Ed Faherty
Phase start 01 January 2019
Phase Estimated end 31 March 2019



The GMCA has been awarded £80k from the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) for a discovery stage project to look at the way localities collect statutory returns for children’s services.

Every day, our Children’s Services Departments (CSDs) make key decisions deciding the future of vulnerable children without timely and relevant comparable data. Without this, they cannot accurately assess what works and what doesn’t or make well-informed commissioning decisions. Statutory returns processes specifically are very inefficient and cost-intensive. Although each of the 153 CSDs in England faces this problems, they’ve not been able to solve it. Each CSD spends upwards of three months creating comparable datasets (SSDA903 and CiN Census) on vulnerable children. The significant amount of time and money (~£50k/authority) that this demands means these datasets are prepared only once yearly. Nationally, the cost is ~£7.6m, equal to the total annual pay of hundreds of analysts.


The objective of the project is to improve this process by giving CSDs access to comparable, data on children in care (eg, needs, services, outcomes, etc) which will in turn enable them to make better, more appropriate commissioning decisions so that vulnerable children achieve the best outcomes possible. Our discovery phase project will focus on developing a standardised reporting approach for the SSDA903 statutory returns, and identifying what the unmet data needs stemming from the current process are. We will develop a deep understanding of user needs (UNs) and the existing statutory returns processes, before designing a potential solution to increase efficiency and improve child outcomes.




Status Updates

20 March 2019

  • Edward Faherty

    Currently compiling project findings and recommendations for final project submission