University researchers train city council staff in advanced data analysis techniques using SPSS

Published: 6 September 2023

Researchers from the Network for Social and Educational Equity (NSEE) offer Glasgow City Council staff professional development opportunities in advanced data analysis and research skills

Researchers from the Network for Social and Educational Equity in the School of Education have been working with Glasgow City Council’s education services’ Performance, Planning and Research (PPR) team to provide professional development opportunities in advanced data analysis and research skills.

Stuart Hall and Kevin Lowden have facilitated development sessions using SPSS, the statistical software for data management and advanced analysis.

SPSS is a widely used programme for statistical analysis in social science and is also used by health and education researchers and governments. In addition to statistical analysis, data management (case selection, file reshaping and creating derived data) and data documentation (a metadata dictionary is stored in the datafile) are features of the base software.

70,000 school population

Glasgow’s school population totals over 70,000 pupils, with 57 per cent of pupils at primary schools, 41 percent in secondary education, and 2 per cent in schools that provide additional support for learning (ASL) [1].

The pupil population in Glasgow is the most diverse in Scotland with more than 130 different home languages spoken.

Stuart and Kevin led several sessions on various aspects of data analysis and research techniques using the council’s existing data on schools, making the experience directly relevant to the data team’s current roles.

The team of five, led by Christina MacDonald, the Performance, Planning and Research manager Strategic Support Services, were able to apply these techniques to various datasets and consultations recently carried out by the team. This included deep dives into a recent stakeholder survey carried out by Education services.

Pupils, staff and parents and carers were surveyed in the 2022/23 session to gather feedback on views and experiences of education in Glasgow.


The team has already seen the benefits from the development sessions with Kevin and Stuart. In some areas of the team’s remit, being able to use SPSS and the associated analysis techniques will allow the team to produce datasets and in depth analysis in a shorter timeframe. Being able to participate in training using existing datasets that the team are already immersed in was a real bonus and made the training much more engaging.

Further interpretation

Christina said: “We are so grateful to Stuart and Kevin for sharing their knowledge and expertise with the team and we have all benefitted greatly from this collaboration in terms of our professional development. We look forward to future opportunities to work together.”

Kevin added: “Working in partnership with Glasgow City’s data analysis team to enhance their skills not only promotes the effective use of the city’s data to support teachers and their colleagues to meet learner and community needs, but also raises the awareness of university staff regarding the potential of collaboration and data use to tackle complex issues in the community.”

Stuart commented: “The experience of working with Glasgow City colleagues has been tremendous. They are very motivated and interested in the data and how they can best use it to promote improvement in council services.”

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First published: 6 September 2023

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