Profile
Nevil Hopley

About Me:
I live in Edinburgh, Scotland. I’m married with two daughters who are now at University. My day work involves analysing examination data for the Scottish Qualifications Authority. When that’s done, I get outside to run, or row, or ride a mountain unicycle(!)

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For 25 years, I was a Secondary School Head of Mathematics Department and I taught Mathematics, Statistics and Mechanics in both England and Scotland from 1994 to 2023.
In 2017, I decided that I wish to become a Chartered Statistician, so I went about learning a statistical programming language and I also studied some Open University Statistics Modules.
In June 2023, I changed jobs to become a Senior Data Analyst. This has drastically changed my worklife balance for the better and I now have the time and energy to do lots of things during evenings and weekends.

My pronouns are:
he/him

My Work:
In the most basic terms, I convert very large data sets into summary tables and nice charts, and I also go looking for any interesting trends or changes over time in the data.

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The data that I have access to are all of the exam results for every secondary school pupil in Scotland. We also have information on exam results for people in colleges and in the workplace.
One of the main things we do is produce what are called ‘Official Statistics’ that summarise important information about exam results, which are then reported on in the news and talked about in the Scottish Government. We therefore have to be very precise with our work and double check everything so that no mistakes are made.
We also explore different ways of presenting summary information, as well as trying out new approaches to providing exam information to anyone who asks for it.

My Typical Day:
I work from home, so my start time is quite flexible, but it is usually sometime between 8am and 8:30am. I work solidly through until lunch, when I can then take as much or as little time off as I want. Most days I can fit in an hour’s exercise and some lunch, before having to be back working by 2pm. By 4:30pm, I am often finished, leaving the rest of the day to do whatever I want.

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During my working hours, I have online video meetings with other members of my team, as well as other people in the organisation. These meetings are when we catch up on work we’re doing, help each other with problems that we’re tackling, and plan for future projects.
When I am not in a meeting, I can be working on whatever analysis requires my attention, as well as keeping in touch with others using email or online messaging software.
I also try to make time for helping people using my existing experience and knowledge, such as being involved with this “I’m a Scientist…” website.

What I'd do with the prize money:
I’ve recently been identified as someone who is to get some training for how to deal with journalists when talking about Statistics. I would therefore use the money to support the promotion of gaining good statistical and data science knowledge across a wide range of jobs that need it.

Education:
I went to school in Edinburgh, Scotland.
After that I spent 3 years studying Mathematics at University in England, and then 1 year doing a Teacher Training course at a different University in England.
About 25 years later, I then studied alongside my day job a twomonth Data Visualisation course through Edinburgh University and then 2 years studying some modules with the Open University.All of these experiences helped me build up a very strong set of skills that ranged from technical knowledge to confidence in talking to audiences and explaining complicated techniques and ideas.

Qualifications:
At School:
3x Scottish Standard Grades (roughly equivalent to GCSEs) in French, Engineering and
6x Scottish Highers (roughly equivalent to 6 ASLevels) in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Technical Drawing, English and Geography
5x Scottish Certificate of Sixth Year Studies (roughly equivalent to 3 ALevels) in Algebra, Calculus, Statistics, Dynamics and PhysicsFrom Universities:
MA Honours in Mathematics
Post Graduate Certificate in Education in Teaching Secondary Mathematics
3x Statistics Modules from the Open University
Data Visualisation for ProfessionalsFrom Professional Organisations:
Graduate Statistician Award from the Royal Statistical Society
Psychometrics in Educational Assessment Course Certificate
Safe Researcher Training Certificate from the Office for National Statistics
Data Science Professional Certificate from the Royal Statistical Society 
Work History:
19931996 Mathematics Teacher in a Secondary School in South Northamptonshire, England.
19961997 Mathematics Teacher in a Secondary School in Edinburgh, Scotland.
19982023 Head of Mathematics in a Secondary School in Edinburgh, Scotland.
20012017 Texas Instruments National Trainer
I delivered over 60 workshops and presentations throughout the UK, Europe and USA on using graphic calculators to effectively teach Mathematics and Statistics.20022010 Scottish Qualifications Authority Member of several groups that included exploring the use of Advanced Calculators, and reviewing Mathematics and Statistics examinations.
2017present Scottish Qualifications Authority Advanced Higher Statistics Qualification Team Member

Current Job:
Senior Data Analyst

Employer:
Scottish Qualifications Authority

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
mountainunicycling statistician
What did you want to be after you left school?
No definite idea, other than to study more Mathematics and Statistics at University
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Rarely.
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Early retirement and travel the world!
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Mainly electronic synthesiser music from the 1980s
What's your favourite food?
Roast lamb with mint sauce
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be?  be honest!
Wish that I'd learnt a musical instrument when I was younger; that I had a pet cat and that I'd chosen Statistics as a career sooner than I did.
Tell us a joke.
What did the acorn say when it grew up? .....Geometry!
