Government Statistical Service (GSS) Fast Stream
The Civil Service Fast Stream is an accelerated career path to leadership with supported development. It is a centrally run scheme, managed by the Cabinet Office as part of its overall fast stream offering.
Being on one of the fast stream schemes allows you to skip some of the lower grades in your career progression, allowing you to get to leadership roles faster.
The Fast Stream schemes, the GSS and the government professions
There are a range of Fast Stream schemes available, most of which are based on the government profession you wish to progress through.
If you join the Government Statistical Service (GSS) Fast Stream you will automatically join the GSS and the Government Statistician Group (GSG) because you will have passed a badging exercise as part of your interview process.
Find out more about the GSS, the GSG and the other government professions.
Find out more about joining the GSG as a fast streamer.
Find out more about the Civil Service Fast Stream.
Analytical learning and development
To complement your fast stream core learning offer, which focuses on leadership, you will also be able to access the GSS fast stream statistical learning offer.
All GSS fast streamers must attend a GSS Fast Stream induction course and a GSG foundation course in year one. The GSS Fast Stream induction course is similar to the GSG induction course with a slightly different leadership slant. The Fast Stream cohort attends this together.
None of the other statistical courses available are mandatory, but they are recommended, depending on your existing level of knowledge. Being accepted into the Government Statistician Group via acceptance onto the GSS Fast Stream means that you have already met the minimum standard required.
All year one and two fast streamers have access to awareness level online training for administrative data, data linkage and data visualisation, as well as an introduction to statistical disclosure control. They can access this learning at their convenience.
If further classroom-based training is required on these subjects, it will be offered to year two fast streamers, subject to availability of trainers and number of potential attendees i.e. those requesting additional learning.
Introduction to R and Introduction to Python are offered as classroom-based training in year two (fast steamers can also sign up to standard sessions in year one if they want to).
If you identify further learning requirements relevant to your role, please discuss this with your departmental Activity Manager or Skills Capability Manager. You can either access GSS learning or there may be specific learning delivered in your department.
All fast streamers will have access to cohort days. These days allow fast streamers to share best practice and learning from peers, other cohorts and invited speakers.
Membership of the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) is now included as part of the benefits of being on the scheme.
The Royal Statistical Society has over 10000 members and is the UK’s professional body for statistics and data analysis. It works to further the cause of statistics and data in society and in policy formulation and from time to time works closely with GSS.
RSS fellow level membership and fees will be paid for directly by Fast Stream and Early Talent team and recharged to Departments as part of their costs for employing GSS Fast Streamers. New starters from 2021 will automatically be enrolled with the RSS.
As a Fellow, members:
- can access the RSS website including wider development material
- will receive the quarterly “Significance” magazine
- have the opportunity to network with others in the profession including industry and other public sector statisticians.
If you leave the Fast Stream, you may retain your membership for the remainder of the membership term but you will lose your automatic annual renewal of RSS paid for through the Fast Stream. You can then assess whether this can be claimed from your new organisation or you no longer wish to be a member.
Fast stream skills passport
The skills passport for the GSS Fast Stream (ODT, 40KB) should be a live, continuous record of the technical statistical skills that fast streamers develop over the course of the scheme.
It should be completed in addition to the core Fast Stream skills passport where fast streamers record leadership and behavioural skills. It should be reviewed periodically during development conversations with activity managers and one-to-ones with skills capability managers.
Training bursary for year three and four
In 2018 the GSS People Committee agreed to trial a bursary scheme of £1000 to all GSS fast streamers in the 2016 and 2017 cohorts. This bursary was to be used for additional learning and development during year 3 or year 4 of the training.
There have been two further extensions to this offer, which will now run until 2024. The offer will then be reviewed.
- Learning must be used to improve statistical knowledge, networking and leadership, not generic leadership.
- It is advisable to consult the Government Statistician Group (GSG) Career Framework and analytical Learning Pathway for professional learning.
- Fast streamers must allow enough time for learning events to be approved.
- Learning must be £1000 inclusive of VAT, where applicable, or less. Any associated travel and subsistence costs are to be claimed in the normal way through Workday.
- Learning selected must not be available free of charge or at a lower cost through other internal Civil Service routes.
The type of learning and development activity could be:
- formal learning
- attending conferences or events
- modules within a university course
- learning provided by the Royal Statistical Society (RSS)
- Government Analysis Function learning from other professions
Fast streamers consider their development requirements and discuss it with their Activity Manager and Skills and Capability Manager, in line with principles.
Fast streamers must complete the GSS Fast Stream Training Bursary Form and submit it to the Skills Capability Manager through the Activity Manager.
The Skills Capability Manager reviews the learning to make sure it meets the principles.
If the learning does not meet the principles, the Skills Capability Manager will discuss this with the Fast Streamer and Activity Manager to explain why the application does not meet the principles. Alternative learning routes will be suggested to the Fast Streamer.
The Skills and Capability Manager signs off the request and submits the form to the Fast Stream Early Talent (FSET) Statistics Scheme Lead for overall approval. The form will be shared with FSET Finance colleagues to approve the request through workday, or book the learning where appropriate.
The FSET Finance Team recharge costs from the department.
Fast Streamers book their learning and submit evidence through workday, or ask the FSET Finance team to book on their behalf.
Fast Streamers attend learning and share their experiences with Skills and Capability Manager and Activity Manager. This will help them find out more about the type and value of the learning and assess the value for money it represents.
FSET Statistics Scheme Lead will keep an overall list of learning type and cost for each cohort of fast streamers. This is to be shared with the GSS Careers Team on every year.
GSS Careers Team review and evaluate learning with input from Learning and Development Steering Group. This is discussed with the FSET Statistics Scheme Lead and shared with the GSS People Committee, Skills and Capability Managers and Activity Managers.
The principles are reviewed and updated if needed.
How your progress is assessed
All GSS Fast Streamers will be encouraged and supported to review statistical, as well as leadership progress throughout their time on the scheme. The main tool to help with this is the GSS Fast Stream Skills Passport (ODT, 25KB).
During the second year on the scheme all Fast Streamers are assessed through a Development Trajectory Assessment to ensure they are on course to Grade 7 (G7) for their leadership element.
For the GSS scheme we also ask that in months 22 and 23 of the scheme the activity manager checks in with the fast streamer to review their statistical progress.
The End of Scheme Assessment is the final formal assessment completed by the Fast Streamer and is the gateway to their exit and graduation from the scheme. The Fast Streamer is required to present a suite of evidence from their time on the programme, to demonstrate their capability to perform at G7 level.
For the GSS scheme our Fast Streamers will be assessed on:
- the leadership behaviours
- the statistical competencies
Successful completion of this enables the Fast Streamer to apply for G7 statistical roles and means they are badged as a G7 statistician.
If you are a current GSS Fast Streamer and would like more information on any of these assessments, please contact your Skills Capability Manager.
Fast stream secondments and placements
In year three of the GSS Fast Stream scheme, all Fast Streamers complete either a secondment (to an external organisation), or complimentary placement (to another government profession) for six months:
- read about Abbie Cochrane’s charity secondment
- read about Oliver Haines’ devolved government secondment
- read about Ellen Clowser’s secondment to the BBC
- read about Jack Rodgers’ secondment to the BBC
The opportunity to work at the headquarters of the BBC News in London is run through an Expression of Interest (EOI). This BBC secondment programme is run annually.
There may be an opportunity for an international posting. These opportunities are limited and will usually be either a Year 3 or Year 4 placement. You can read about Olivia Podmore’s international posting on the Analysis Function blog.
GSS Fast Stream – Mentoring
All GSS Fast Streamers are encouraged to find a mentor using any of the different networks that you have access to as part of the Fast Stream programme.
You may want a mentor to help you develop your leadership style and knowledge. But there may also be times where you would benefit from being mentored by someone within the statistics profession especially if you are looking to gain experience and knowledge of a specific statistical area.
In the first instance you should always talk to your Activity Manager or Skills Capability Manager to explore what you want to get out of the mentoring arrangement. They may be able to recommend someone to put you in touch with or could advise you to speak to your departmental Head of Profession who could also help you make connections outside of your immediate department.
There are a number of other existing routes you also could explore. Many departments have their own mentoring programmes although these will not be specific to mentoring for statistical development.
If you are unable to secure a mentor through your Activity Manager or Skills Capability Manager, please contact GSS.Careers@ons.gov.uk.
Senior Sponsors of the GSS Fast Stream
To increase the support offered to our fast streamers, 5 members of the Government Statistical Group’s Senior Civil Service (SCS) community have volunteered to become senior sponsors. There will be one sponsor for each cohort plus the GSS Fast Stream Alumni.
Each sponsor will host events for their cohort. Their role as sponsor will include:
- encouraging GSS Fast Streamers to see the overall development benefits of completing the scheme and End of Scheme Assessment (ESA) before moving to Grade 7 roles
- discussing developments in the statistical system, linking to the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) Strategy and horizon scanning future direction
- encouraging the use of, and explaining the value, of the GSS Fast Stream (FS) skills passport in monitoring professional development against the GSG competencies
- providing guidance on GSG competences, how to seek opportunities to gain experience, keeping evidence in preparation for Y2 professional development progress check in, and ESA
- providing feedback on any issues or concerns raised by their cohort
GSS are looking to offer our Fast Stream alumni the opportunity to continue to network and share experiences as they take the next steps in their careers. To help this we have set up an alumni network channel through the GSS workspace on Slack with the aim that this becomes self-sustaining over time.
Any GSS Fast Streamer that joined the centralised scheme from 2016 onwards and completes their Fast Stream programme or moves into a Grade 7 role in their final year is welcome to join the channel.
As the scheme progresses and more people complete the programme we hope to see the group grow and flourish. The GSS careers team will also use this as a route to contact you with opportunities.
Questions about the GSS Fast Stream
You can contact the careers team at GSS.Careers@ons.gov.uk to ask any questions about the GSS Fast Stream.