Senior Data Scientist, Apprenticeships programme

Location: London SW1P

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The Apprenticeships Finance and Performance team helps our Ministers, programme colleagues, and other partners to access the right data, information and insight to make well-informed decisions. We also are responsible for the programme’s budget of more than £2 billion a year.

We are looking for a data scientist to join our cross-discipline team of eight, which includes analysts, finance and policy implementation colleagues. This is a varied role with exposure to projects across the programme. You will collaborate with your team as well as work with analysts and data scientists in other parts of DfE and the ESFA, and will have the opportunity to work on policy, delivery and finance projects.

About the Agency

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) plays a key role in delivering the Department for Education’s (DfE) key objective of striving for world-class education, training and care - for everyone, whatever your background.

Data Scientists work with end-users, sourcing relevant data and using this for a variety of purposes, including communicating insight of that data both internally and externally to help business decisions. Our work includes digital data capture, governance, visualisation and analytics.

As an organisation, we are committed to developing our people and the next generation of data and technology leaders.

About the Department for Education

At the Department for Education, diversity is one of our cornerstones. Not just in terms of the background, skills and perspectives of the people who work here, but the different professions who call this organisation home. We have a surprising variety of roles, where a vast array of people come together to create an education system that gives today’s children and young people everything they need to thrive. Join us and this environment will be the launchpad for a career few can match for experience and nationwide, real world impact.


  • Leading strands of analysis, data management and performance reporting to support policy development and implementation, operations, and financial management. This includes identifying a specific business need, translating technical and non-technical user requirements into work packages, and then identifying the best tools, data and techniques to deliver them.

  • Crafting rapid prototypes of creative analytical solutions that test hypotheses with end users.

  • Engaging and advising colleagues to increase their awareness of the latest data and evidence, and to help them make the best use of it, and to identify high value opportunities.

  • Disseminating and communicating key findings to colleagues at all levels and professions, in a clear and powerful manner using effective visualisations.

  • Ensuring quality assurance and good practice is built into all aspects of work and is actively promoted.

  • Actively driving the evolution of Data Science in ESFA and DfE by harvesting knowledge, defining standards and good practice.

  • Stay on top of emerging technologies and developing connections with peers to share learning with the Data Science and Analyst community to influence the wider Data Science landscape.

About You

Essential knowledge, skills and experience:

  • Academic background in Maths, Statistics, Computer Science or similar experience and aptitude.

  • Strong analytical/data skills, with experience of creating and handling complex datasets and high level of data literacy. Able to translate disparate data and information sources into relevant business insights and to communicate sophisticated analysis to senior technical and non-technical audiences.

  • High level programming experience ideally with knowledge of R, Power BI, Microsoft SQL Server (or similar data extraction packages), and advanced Excel skills.

  • Experience of crafting automated reports and bespoke data visualisations;

  • A good understanding of managing data securely and appropriately, with strong quality assurance skills;

  • At least 18 months practical experience delivering innovative, data driven solutions on large or complex data sets including gathering disparate data, extensive data manipulation, and analysis using a range of appropriate analytical techniques and visualisation of the results.

Essential skills from the Digital, Data and Technology profession that are relevant for this role are:

  • Applied maths, statistics, and scientific practices - Expert
  • Data science innovation - Expert
  • Developing data science capability - Practitioner
  • Programming and build (data science) - Practitioner
  • Understanding analysis across the life cycle (data science) – Expert

More details can be found here:

Desirable knowledge, skills and experience:

  • strong partner relationship management skills and experience working with wide range of partners, within and outside the organisation;
  • familiarity with Agile methodology and ability to handle diverse projects with changing user needs.

No professional qualifications or memberships are needed but:

  • As a minimum, degree level analytical skills with a numerical component are essential for these posts, though equivalent working knowledge will be considered.
  • Membership of the Digital, Data and Technology (DDAT), Government Statistical Society (GSS) or the Government Operational Research Society is desirable. At the application stage, you will be asked whether you have any of these professional memberships.

Desirable criteria will only be assessed in the event of a tie break situation to make an informed decision.

We will ensure that individuals with disabilities are provided reasonable accommodation to participate in the job application or interview process, to perform essential job functions, and to receive other benefits and privileges of employment. Please contact us to request accommodation.


We'll assess you against these behaviours during the selection process:

  • Changing and Improving
  • Making Effective Decisions
  • Communicating and Influencing
  • Delivering at Pace

Technical skills

We'll assess you against these technical skills during the selection process:

  • Applied maths, statistics, and scientific practices
  • Data science innovation
  • Developing data science capability
  • Programming and build (data science)
  • Understanding analysis across the life cycle (data science)


Applicants currently holding a permanent post in the Civil Service should note that, if successful, their salary on appointment would be determined by the Department’s transfer / promotion policies.

As a member of the DfE, you will be entitled to join the highly competitive Civil Service Pension Scheme, which many experts agree is one of the most generous in the UK.

You will have 25 days leave, increasing by 1 day every year to a maximum of 30 days after five years’ service. In addition, all staff receive the Queen’s Birthday privilege holiday and 8 days’ bank and public holidays.

We offer flexible working arrangements, such as job sharing, term-time working, flexi-time and compressed hours.

As an organisation, which exists to support education and lifelong learning, we offer our staff excellent professional development opportunities.

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