Ben Coleman, Head of Post 16 Statistics at OFSTED

Job title: Head of Post 16 Statistics

Name of company or organisation: Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED)

Time spent in current job: 9 months in current post, 6 years in organisation

Briefly describe the organisation you work for
Ofsted is the inspectorate for children and learners in England. It aims to contribute to the provision of better education and care through effective inspection and regulation.

Explain what you do on an average day at work
I lead and manage the team responsible for post-16 statistics. The team are mainly responsible for:

  • developing and producing pre-inspection performance reports for colleges and sixth forms,
  • providing statistical support to inspectors during inspection,
  • analysing inspection judgements and post-inspection questionnaires providing, analyses of post 16 data to support specific projects and exercises.

What do you like most about your job?
I enjoy working in an environment where I can use my statistical and mathematical skills on a daily basis.

When and why did you become interested in maths?
I became interested in maths and stats at an early age but particularly during my GCSE courses. I enjoyed being able to provide exact solutions to mathematical questions and bring able to see the real-life application of the skills that I learnt.

What made you choose your career?
I saw it as a natural progression from my school and university education. It’s an area that I am good at and that I enjoy.

What qualifications (academic or professional) do you have?
I have a 1st class honours degree in Mathematical Sciences, gained at Coventry University. I am also a fellow of the RSS and am considering applying for Chartered Statistician status.

Which of your skills do you consider essential for your job?
On the statistical side, inference testing, regression, anova, sampling and experimental design are important, but by far the most important is the ability to explain statistical concepts and analyses to audiences with less statistical background. Further to this, leadership, management, communication, negotiation, planning and problem solving are all important skills in my job.

Do you have any advice for someone considering your career path?
I would encourage people to follow my career path, but I would also advise that you have to really push for ways to introduce statistical techniques into your work. It is all too easy to merely produce percentages and counts in your analyses – so that managers can understand them – but you should look for ways that advanced stats can be incorporated to improve the power of the messages.

What does the future hold for you?
I intend to stay in my current post for another 6-12 months before moving to a statistical job in a different government department. Beyond that, a few more posts in government stats – hopefully working my way up!