Senior Data Scientist

Office for National Statistics

Apply before 11:55 pm on Tuesday 24th May 2022



Reference number



£50,205 - £60,139


Grade 7

Contract type


Business area

Data Science Campus

Type of role

Information Technology

Working pattern

Flexible working, Full-time, Homeworking, Job share, Part-time

Number of posts



We operate a hybrid working model and fully support flexibility with colleagues already based across the UK working from home and linked to one of our core locations in Newport, Titchfield (Fareham) or Darlington.

For this role you will be linked to one of the core locations, the frequency of attendance at our offices is agreed with you as relevant to your role.


About the Data Science Campus:

The Campus is a purpose-built centre of excellence for data science. We are a core part of UK Government data science landscape and play a leading role in developing the UK’s capability and international reputation in data science.

Our mission is to work at the frontier of data science for the public good. We use the latest generation of data science tools and technologies to exploit the growing availability of new data sources and we apply innovative methods to the measurement and analysis of the economy, the environment, and society. We create new understanding and improve decision-making.

We tackle the issues that matter. We deliver a wide range of data science projects across the public sector. We lead international collaborations. We work with academia and industry experts. We champion openness, publishing reports, papers, and open-source code related to our projects. We abide by the highest standards of data ethics. We have teams of data scientists working on topics that really matter for the UK, such as population mobility, COVID-19, net zero, insights about the economy, EU exit, synthetic data, and levelling up.

To find out more about the Data Science Campus and our projects, please visit our DSC link Data Science Campusor follow us on Twitter

Job description

As a senior data scientist at the Campus, you will have a passion for data science and using it for the public good. You will relish the challenge presented by delivering benefits from the broad span of Campus projects. You will lead or work within multi-disciplinary delivery teams and collaborate with others in government, industry, academia, and charities, both in the UK and internationally. You will research, design, build and improve digital and data products. You will also contribute to building capability in data science through research, mentoring and training.

The presently advertised role will place the candidate in a team researching opportunities for the implementation of synthetic data and privacy enhancing technologies (PETs), to enable faster and safer production of analysis, and the production of statistics from protected 3rd party sources.

Senior Data Scientists / Analyst (appointed at the Civil Service grade of Grade 7) are experienced Data Scientists and Analysts. They are a recognised authority on a number of data science specialisms, with some knowledge of cutting-edge techniques. They may work on projects of high political exposure, value or complexity. They engage with senior stakeholders and champion the value of data science. They line manage more junior colleagues. They communicate the value of data science to senior stakeholders. They identify and deliver value through the application of data science.


The role:

The Synthetic Data and Privacy Enhancing Technologies Squad is currently focusing on two workstreams:

• Research into methods for generating synthetic data with enhanced privacy guarantees (eg. differential privacy). Our aim is to deliver synthetic versions of key ONS data assets to enable easier access to data for researchers. This work is in collaboration with the Alan Turing Institute.

• Implementation of Federated Learning methods with partnering UN National Statistics Agencies, and other UK Government departments, to facilitate the production of analysis using sensitive data sets maintained by separate agencies. This work is in collaboration with the UN PET Lab, and UN High-Level Group for the Modernisation of Official Statistics (UN HLG-MOS).

As a Senior Data Scientist you will be responsible for the delivery of one of these workstreams and will have opportunities to collaborate with the wider team on both areas. There may be opportunities for international travel to promote this work.

You will be expected to:
• research cutting edge methods and techniques: testing emerging tools/packages that implement PETs and create implementations of algorithms from recent research publications.
• identify how PETs and synthetic data can be delivered through emerging ONS platforms, and work with platform teams to establish best practice standards.
• produce high-quality code (predominantly in Python) using best practice version control methods.
• identify opportunities for applications of synthetic data/PETs with significant public impact, and ensure work delivers value by understanding and addressing stakeholder needs
• lead a team to deliver innovative data science at pace using Agile methods, mentoring junior data science team members.
• engage in activities to support the data science community (within ONS, UK government, and internationally) through presentations, workshops, and publications.
• communicate effectively to both technical and non-technical audiences at all levels, and collaborate with industry, academia, government departments and other public sector bodies, and international partners.

There may be some line management associated with these posts. Some travel to other Campus and Government locations will be also required.

Person Specification

Essential skills and experience criteria

For each of the criteria below we will assess you for significant experience. Please ensure that you provide as much evidence as you can of your skills and experience in the following:

• A track record of delivering innovative and ground-breaking data science projects on time, to meet user needs, and overcoming any challenges.
• Experience working with large data sets using cloud infrastructure.
• Strong coding/software development skills in at least one of Python or R, using best practice version control methods to facilitate collaborative working.
• Working as a part of a team to deliver work with impact and at pace.
• Communicating technical concepts to a wide range of technical and non-technical audiences, including senior leaders.

Strong candidates will be able to demonstrate evidence of experience against some of the following criteria, though it is not expected that you will have experience in all of them:

• Knowledge of modern synthetic data generation techniques, or Privacy Enhancing Technologies.
• Awareness of a range of statistical evaluation metrics.
• Experience using ML techniques at scale, possibly using multi-core/distributed processing, SQL and NoSQL database systems.
• Ability to follow and construct mathematical proofs, specifically in probability theory.
• Knowledge of the wider government data landscape and government priorities.


We welcome applicants with a good degree, or equivalent, that includes components related to data science, computer science, or software engineering. This might include, but is not limited to, the following subjects: mathematics, statistics, computer science, data science, geospatial science, physics, economics, econometrics, chemistry, biology, and ecology.

We encourage applications from people without formal qualifications, but with equivalent working experience.

We are also interested in applicants with a higher degree (for example, MSc or PhD) in a related subject.


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

  • Changing and Improving
  • Managing a Quality Service
  • Leadership
  • Delivering at Pace

Technical skills

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

The Office for National Statistics is part of the Civil Service, and as such we share a number of key benefits with other departments, whilst also having our own unique offerings to support our 5000+ valued colleagues across the business.

Whether you are hearing about us for the first time or already know a bit about our organisation, we hope that the benefits pack attached (bottom of page) will give you a great insight into the benefits and facilities available to our colleagues, and our fantastic working culture.

We are an organisation that takes well-being seriously and lives and breathes the desire to modernise the workplace of the future. Everyone, from our office-based colleagues across our office sites, to our field interviewers and airports and ports passenger survey teams, are part of a diverse and inclusive family.

Inclusion & Diversity

Inclusion & Accessibility

At ONS we are always looking to attract the very best people from the widest possible talent pool, and we are proud to be an inclusive, equal opportunities employer. As a member of the Business Disability Forum and a Disability Confident Leader we’re committed to ensuring that all candidates are treated fairly throughout the recruitment process.

As part of our application process, you will be prompted to provide details of any reasonable adjustments to our recruitment process that you need. If you would like to discuss any reasonable adjustments before applying, please contact the recruitment team in the first instance.

If you would like an accessible version of any of the attachments or recruitment documents below or linked to in this advert, please contact the recruitment team who will be happy to assist.


Successful candidates must pass a disclosure and barring security check.
Successful candidates must meet the security requirements before they can be appointed. The level of security needed is security check.

See our vetting charter.
People working with government assets must complete basic personnel security standard checks.

Selection process details

This vacancy is using Success Profiles, and will assess your Behaviours, Experience and Technical skills.

The ONS regularly run webinars and support sessions for candidates. You can find details on all our upcoming webinars on our Eventbrite page.

Assessment at application stage will be based on your work history, skill and experience and personal statement. Your application should be tailored to demonstrate any skills, knowledge and experience that are relevant to the content of the role.

Your personal statement should be no longer than 1250 words. You should use this space to provide evidence for each essential criterion within the person specification. As the criteria are scored, we would recommend that you give clear examples for each including the impact of your actions.

Success Profiles Behaviour examples are not required at this stage.

In cases where there is a high number of applications the sift pass mark may be adjusted and candidates will be invited to interview in merit order, i.e., those scoring the highest.

Should you be invited to interview, you will be assessed using various assessment techniques aligned to the Civil Service Success Profiles, where you'll be assessed against all the four behaviours outlined in the advert, as well as against the technical areas listed, as relevant to the role - please refer to person specification essential skills.

A presentation will be required at interview. Further information will be provided to successful candidates prior to interview.

Informal interviews will be held with those who pass the sift via video conferencing.

Sift will take place – 25th and 26th May 2022
Informal interviews – w/c 6th June 2022

Full terms and conditions are attached at the bottom of this advert

Feedback will only be provided if you attend an interview or assessment.

Nationality requirements

This job is broadly open to the following groups:

  • UK nationals
  • nationals of Commonwealth countries who have the right to work in the UK
  • nationals of the Republic of Ireland
  • nationals from the EU, EEA or Switzerland with settled or pre-settled status or who apply for either status by the deadline of the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS)
  • relevant EU, EEA, Swiss or Turkish nationals working in the Civil Service
  • relevant EU, EEA, Swiss or Turkish nationals who have built up the right to work in the Civil Service
  • certain family members of the relevant EU, EEA, Swiss or Turkish nationals
Further information on nationality requirements

Working for the Civil Service

The Civil Service Code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants.

We recruit by merit on the basis of fair and open competition, as outlined in the Civil Service Commission's recruitment principles.
The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equal opportunities. As such, we run a Disability Confident Scheme (DCS) for candidates with disabilities who meet the minimum selection criteria.
This vacancy is part of the Great Place to Work for Veterans initiative.
Once this job has closed, the job advert will no longer be available. You may want to save a copy for your records.

Contact point for applicants

Job contact :

  • Name : Owen Daniel
  • Email :

Recruitment team :

  • Email :

Further information

If you feel your application has not been treated in accordance with the Recruitment Principles and you wish to make a complaint, in the first instance, you should contact If you are not satisfied with the response you receive from the Department, you can contact the Civil Service Commission

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