The Northern Alliance of Scotland

Using novel data sets and techniques to understand the relationship poverty and attainment rate for children.

By Akhil Sagiraju, Arpit Arora, Deepthi Chand, Jatin Baghel, Nupura Gawde in Education Poverty Open Data Open Source


The Northern Alliance of Scotland is a regional improvement collaborative, spanning across and supporting eight local authorities and their associated school settings to improve education and reduce the poverty related attainment gap. Within these settings, children, young people and their families live across a diverse range of urban and rural settlements.

The aim of this collaboration is to determine what data sources and analytical techniques best reflect the challenges of child poverty, and subsequently provide a means to assess the poverty related attainment gap as a result – which will further allow individual school settings, local authorities and other bodies to plan targeted interventions to reduce it.

Developed through the Impact Collaborations process by The Data for Children Collaboratiive w/ UNICEF, the project brings together academic expertise from the Fraser of Allander Institute at the University of Strathclyde and Glasgow Caledonian University, and data science expertise at CivicDataLab and East Neuk Analytics.


To address the complexity of the problem, the research was conducted for the following threads:

Stakeholder Research:

  • The data sources and tools key stakeholders are interacting with to better support the children in their region with and how are they using them.
  • Improvements required to the data and tools engaged by key stakeholders related to the education of a child.
  • The interventions that can be brought through to use access to information in driving civic engagement and participation.

Data Research:

  • Identify what kind of data and information do stakeholders seek or prefer to understand the needs of children and young people in relation to education in their area.
  • Determine what data sources, tools and techniques best reflect the challenges of child poverty, and subsequently provide a means to assess the poverty related attainment gap as a result.

Design Research:

  • Study of existing tools/platforms to understand the landscape of educational tools available to the key stakeholders.
  • Develop suggestive wireframes for possible digital solutions for challenges highlighted in the stakeholder research.

Technology Research:

  • Identify requirements, challenges, use cases, management procedures and tooling options to develop and build the features from the stakeholder workshop.
  • Evaluate the shortlisted data landscape to suggest data model, hosting options and chart down initial platform architecture.


  • Akhil Sagiraju; Lead Developer
  • Arpit Arora; Project Lead
  • Deepthi Chand; Technology Lead
  • Jatin Baghel; Product Designer
  • Nupura Gawde; Design Researcher


As a Project Lead and Lead Researcher on the project, my role encompassed the following activities on the project:


  • Exploring the regional education landscape to identify the key drivers and resources of information.
  • Conducting workshops and interviews with key stakeholders to better understand their challenges and suggest solutions.
  • Identifying key datasets that can be brought together to create a comprehensive picture of child poverty and attainment.


  • Overseeing the design research, tool audit and wireframes exercises ensuring all stakeholder needs are incorporated.
  • Communicating the data findings and stakeholder requirements to the technology team to build required solutions.


  • Identifying the project opportunity and engaging with funders to secure the project for the organisation.
  • Scoping the problem statement in collaboration with the project partners to identify actionable project outputs.
  • Liaising with the project partners, key stakeholders and Scottish government officials to communicate progress.
Posted on:
September 1, 2021
3 minute read, 527 words
Education Poverty Open Data Open Source
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