Decipher my data! Flu!

Help Dr Rob find if school absence data can detect flu peaks early. Get your students to analyse your school’s absence data and report on their findings. Secondary schools in England can take part.


Flu in England

WARNING – Please read the following about the data on this graph:

The graph you’re looking at is a live summary of the data we’re collecting. We are making this information available publicly as we want to open up research to the public, showing it in a new and exciting way. However, this is research project, which means we don’t yet know what the data is telling us, we’re still deciphering that.

Because of this you need to be very cautious when looking at the graph. If there’s a blip or a dip in the data, it could be real, it could be an error, or it could be caused by something completely unrelated to flu. Therefore, please don’t use the graph to try and work out whether there is an outbreak of influenza occurring. If you want to know what’s going on with the levels of flu in England and Wales then you should check Health Protection Agency reports here.

What’s involved?

  1. Get started and get consent from your headteacher
  2. Collect and analyse your school’s absence data
  3. Report your findings to Dr Rob and the UCL team

Took part in 2011/12?

Reproduced with permision from HPA

RCGP GP ILI consultation activity England and Wales 1988 to 2012 from HPA annual report

We ran this project over last winter. One of the reasons for doing the project was to show secondary school students that science doesn’t always produce a nice staight line or smooth curve. Or indeed that sometimes it doesn’t work at all! Last year saw the lowest incidence of flu on record and whilst we learnt about baseline levels of absence we didn’t see enough flu to justify publishing a paper. A second winter without significant levels of flu would be unprecendented so we are running the project again in the expectation that this time we will collect and analyse enough data. Read about what else has changed here.

About the top graph

The graph shows the data currently being collected by schools.

  • National Influenza Like Illness: The number of individuals across England going to see their General Practitioner with Influenza Like Illness (per 100,000 of the population). This is data collected by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and is one of the best indicators for flu activity (read more about it here).
  • Days missed due to illness: National school data showing the number of days missed due to illness (per 100 students).

You can keep up to date with Decipher my data! and the Flu! project by following us on twitter @deciphermydata and watch out for tweets marked #IASdata.

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