The Knowledge: How to get the information you need out of computers and information systems

A practical guide for children's social services

Paperback / softback, 52 pages, 297 mm x 210 mm
1 May 2005
Institute of Education

Price: £7.95

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Information systems in current use in children's social services, whether computer- or paper-based, are generally designed more for recording information than for retrieving and using it. Yet if staff understand more about how to use the information capital at their fingertips, they can be empowered to improve the quality of outcomes for the children and families they serve. Based on research commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills and the Welsh Assembly Government, the guide includes sections which specifically address the needs of different groups of professionals. The clear and practical advice will enable staff in social service departments to identify their information needs, commission better systems to meet them, and improve and make explicit the ways in which they use the information thus provided.

  • Mike Gatehouse

  • June Statham

    Professor of Education and Family Support

    Thomas Coram Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London

  • Harriet Ward

1 Introduction
How to use this guide
Further reading
2 ‘Getting stuff out’ – retrieving and using information
The Integrated Children’s System
Problems with existing information systems
Constraints on information use
Ways of retrieving information
Different types of output
Information quality
Power to the user
Information use
The Outputs Framework
Can you obtain the outputs you need?
Outputs and the Integrated Children’s System (ICS)
Forms and exemplars
Storing information recorded in the exemplars as data
Other outputs
Sharing information with others
Other departments of the council
Multi-agency work
Service users, Members and the public
Twelve top tips
3 Outputs for users
Assistant directors and senior managers
Suggestions for action
Policy, performance and information staff
Suggestions for action
Team managers
Suggestions for action
Social work practitioners
Suggestions for action
IT staff
System design
The situation for users
The Integrated Children’s System (ICS)
Suggestions for action
1 Twenty questions about outputs
2 The Outputs Framework
3 Alerts, warning, diary items, notifications
4 Are family support services meeting children’s needs?
5 Outputs for case review processes
6 Outputs for staff by team or role