Careers in O.R.
ProfileS - Andrew Webster

Andrew Webster

Value for Money Unit,
Department for Education

Team Leader in the Value for Money Unit at the Department for Education

BSc (Hons) Mathematics (First Class) from Liverpool University in1994
MSc Decision Sciences (with Distinction) from the University of Westminster in 2005

“Using analysis to make a difference to our public services; education, health, criminal justice to name a few.”

Like many people leaving University, I was unsure of which career would best suit me and at the time, opted for a career in teaching. After a PGCE and four years of teaching secondary mathematics, I needed a change. By chance I stumbled across an advert for the Government Operational Research Service (GORS). Remembering my modules on operational research (O.R.) in my degree, I thought that this would be something interesting and challenging.

I started my career in GORS at the Home Office and soon discovered that GORS members came from a broad academic background including mathematics, economics, physics, psychology and geography. As a scientific officer, a training grade, I was introduced to techniques to help work on police efficiency, performance management of the prison service and passport demand forecasting.

Many of these projects involve supporting Ministers and policy makers in their decision making. At the time of the fuel crisis, I was drafted into the Cabinet Office to do some urgent modelling of the available fuel stocks and how long they might last under different scenarios. I also created a model of the Criminal Justice System to see how we might reduce crime most effectively.

Like many GORS members, I was given day release in order to study part-time for a Masters degree in Decision Sciences (O.R. and management). The studies helped to give me the broad spectrum of skills and techniques required to progress in O.R.

Now, I lead a team of analysts and policy officers responsible for improving value for money in our schools. This involves creating measures of school-level efficiency, commissioning research into the impact of resources on pupil attainment and creating tools to help schools improve their financial management and efficiency. The work is interesting and challenging, liaising with schools and local authorities to ensure that the resources schools use have the maximum impact on children’s outcomes.

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