Parental Involvement and Engagement Census Scotland 2021/22

Statistical publication providing information on the Parental Involvement and Engagement Census 2021/22.

Experimental Statistics

Experimental statistics are Official Statistics that are undergoing development. The Code of Practice for Official Statistics defines experimental statistics as: ‘Experimental statistics are a subset of newly developed or innovative official statistics undergoing evaluation. They are developed under the guidance of the Head of Profession for Statistics (HoP) and published to involve users and stakeholders in the assessment of their suitability and quality at an early stage'. The regulatory guidance document Experimental statistics – official statistics in development sets out the United Kingdom (UK) Statistics Authority policy on this topic. Experimental statistics status provides a clear statement of the nature of the official statistics going through development, with a potentially wider degree of uncertainty in the resulting estimates as the methods and processes are established and verified.

Testing of the experimental statistics allows producers to gain a good understanding of their quality, including their accuracy and reliability, and their value. Users are central to this process – without their involvement, producers will have an incomplete understanding of the suitability of the statistics.

The Office for Statistics Regulation’s Experimental Statistics Official Statistics in Development guidance (June 2022) states the use of experimental statistics provides an excellent means of demonstrating innovation and improvement, while at the same time showing how the statistics can be appropriately used and understood, with producers then using that knowledge to feed back into the development.

There is an emphasis across the Government Statistical Service (GSS) to consult users during the review of statistics, and to make experimental series available during this period to assist in the quality assurance, development and familiarisation of the statistics. The Code of Practice for Official Statistics promotes and supports the release of experimental statistics to involve users in their development at an early stage; however, it is likely that the statistics will not be fully compliant in all areas due to their nature as ‘data being developed’. The practices that are particularly relevant to producing experimental statistics are shown below:

  • T2.1 The Chief Statistician/Head of Profession for Statistics should have sole authority for deciding on methods, standards and procedures, and on the content and timing of the release of regular and ad hoc official statistics. This should include: determining the need for new official statistics, ceasing the release of official statistics, and the development of experimental statistics.
  • V1.3 User satisfaction with the relevance and usefulness of the statistics and data should be reviewed routinely. This should consider the timeliness, accessibility, clarity and accuracy of the statistics and data.
  • V1.5 The views received from users, potential users and other stakeholders should be addressed, where practicable. Statistics producers should consider whether to produce new statistics to meet identified information gaps. Feedback should be provided to them about how their needs can and cannot be met, being transparent about reasons for the decisions made and any constraints.
  • V1.6 Statistics producers should periodically review whether to continue, discontinue, adapt or to provide the statistics through other means, in discussion with users and other stakeholders.
  • V4.1 Statistics producers should keep up to date with developments that can improve statistics and data. They should be transparent in conducting their development  activities, and be open about the outcomes and longer-term development plans.
  • V4.2 Statistics producers should consider testing and releasing new official statistics initially as experimental statistics, under the guidance of the Chief Statistician/Head of Profession for Statistics.
  • V4.3 Users should be involved in the ongoing development of statistics and data, exploring and testing statistical innovations, so that the statistics remain relevant and useful.

The reason for these statistics being classed as experimental statistics is because they are based on a new survey data source. These will be labelled as experimental statistics as such time is required: a. To receive informed feedback from users and potential users of the statistics; b. For users to become familiar with the new statistics and methodology.

Following this publication Scottish Government will review the current model with stakeholders with a view to improving the quality of the statistics. Where appropriate, identified improvements will be incorporated prior to the next data collection.


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