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Transcript of interview with Lord O'Donnell on BBC TV Newsnight, 20 March 2014.

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Royal Statistical Society 2014 Awards in Official Statistics

Royal Statistical Society 2014 Awards in Official Statistics

Do you know of a piece of excellent work by government statisticians? Or a statistical release that had been substantially improved and is now top quality?
As statistical users we are always urging government statisticians to up their game, to respond to user needs, to improve communication and, of course, we always expect official work to be of the highest statistical quality. Often government statisticians work hard and innovatively to respond to this.
So if you know of work by official statisticians – in departments, agencies or other organisations of central government or devolved administrations – that is worthy of reward why not nominate it for the RSS 2014 Excellence in Official Statistics Awards?
This is the fifth year that the awards, sponsored by the UK Statistics Authority, will be run and it covers work that was carried out or completed in 2013. The deadline for nominations is April 25th. For the main awards we are looking for outstanding work that demonstrates one or more of the following criteria:
• excellent or innovative communication of results in a way or ways that are clear, helpful and accessible to a wide array of users;
• an excellent demonstration of gathering information on the requirements of a range of users, and using this information to shape outputs;
• innovative statistical development including but not restricted to the use of existing administrative data (either public or private) to respond to unmet needs, or to replace more expensive data collection processes.
The award for the most improved statistical release will not only show a clear improvement in the release concerned but the improved release should be of the highest standard – informative, clearly presented and adding value to the published statistics.
So can I urge you to take a moment to think whether there is a piece of work, large or small, you could nominate? We would really love to see more nominations from users. More details and an entry form can be obtained on
Jill Leyland
Chair, Organising Committee

Recruitment call for volunteers to deliver training to journalists and journalism students

The Royal Statistical Society is recruiting volunteers to deliver statistics workshops as part of the RSS Science Journalism Programme funded by BIS (Department for Business Innovation and Skills).

The accurate reporting of numbers and statistics is a key concern in today’s climate; with the impact of the Digital Age the general public have increasing access to diversified sources of information. Not only this, but the growing use of numbers in journalism, by different organisations, government institutions, as well as private and public sector organisations creates added pressure on journalists to ensure that data and numbers are reported correctly.

The RSS Science Journalism Programme seeks to address this problem by recruiting volunteer speakers with statistics backgrounds to deliver training to students and emerging journalist in the basics of statistical reporting.

Volunteer as an RSS Trainer

By volunteering you will help students and practicing journalists to:
• Reduce errors in statistics reporting
• Challenge misleading information
• Be more prudent, and critical about their sources
• Better assess the quality of the evidence used
• Improve the quality of reporting

As a volunteer you will have the opportunity to:
• Attend the free RSS Train the Trainer workshop
• Support your skills development
• Improve knowledge and understanding, while gaining transferable skills
• Build new contacts and networking opportunities with statisticians, scientists and journalists
• Access free training and resources
• Share expertise and contribute to the science, journalism and statistician community

What’s more,
• If you are a member of RSS, your volunteering activity can be used to count towards your annual statement of CPD activity
• You can also receive a signed reference of your participation, which can be included as supporting evidence for your CPD portfolio

What the students say:

“It was an excellent opportunity to polish our statistical skills and discuss how we can better reflect the true stories behind the science”
Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent at the Daily Telegraph

“On behalf of all of us at Channel 4 News, thanks again very much for taking the time to come in today. It was a relaxed, informative and entertaining session. I had lots of positive feedback from a number of people who now have a new-found respect for numbers in news reports. Including our own!”
Tom Clarke, Channel 4 News

To apply, and for further information, please complete the Volunteer Sign Up Form and email this to the National Coordinator for Science Journalism Training, Vinet Campbell, by Tuesday 25th February 2014, or phone 020 7614 3930. You can also find out further details about the RSS Science Journalism Programme here:

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