As it stands benchmarking is there to try to ensure that all HERs meet certain minimum standards across.
-the bare minimum of the data on each record (not even requiring a description!)
-a minimum level of access
-a minimum level of staffing
-that they be digital records linked to a GIS.
It was and is a worthwhile exercise. For instance without it the Heritage Gateway would not have been possible, but the principal aim, to make HERs a statutory service has never been achieved The closed we have some is the statement in the NPPF that every LPA should have or have access to an HER.
They were largely the work of Stewart Bryant in the early 2000s, based on the work David Baker carried out in the 1990s. There were more ‘aspirational’ level 2 benchmarks, but in these days of salami sliced budgets few HERs have aspirations rising much above survival .
In this context Jenny’s comments are not very helpful. Accuracy of things like NGRs is very difficult to measure and hence near impossible to include specific requirements in a benchmark: The level of accuracy that would be vital for a market cross would be unachievable for a reported antiquarian find. If she has specific complaints about the accuracy of data from specific HER/s she ought to take them up with that/those HER.
For my part the glaring omission in the current benchmarks is a standard level of data for a GIS.
One question is how does the auditing and benchmarking actually ensure that a dataset is fit for purpose?
This may sound a daft question but as an example we are currently finding that any one HER enquiry (typically for a 2km radius search area) is giving an error rate in the NGR of records of anywhere from1% up to 20-25% . That includes records that are completely in the wrong place, ie many kilometres distant and ones that are "only" a few tens or hundreds of metres wrong. Much of this has come from pushing a paper based, more intuitive record into the unforgiving digital environment but it is very hard to identify without going through record by record and checking. Some errors might be caught by checking and changing 6 figure NGRs to 8 or 10 figure, but others would be very hard to detect.
How does benchmarking and auditing address this particular issue? It is one that is of vital importance if we are to argue, that hand on heart, our HERs are worth having.
----- Original Message -----
From: [log in to unmask]"> EDWARDS, Robert (Environment)
Sent: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 12:17 PM
Subject: Re: B&A2013 - Welcome to the HER Benchmark and Audit Discussion
From my perspective I think there are three fundamental questions that the HER community needs to address first.
Do we need HER benchmarks?
I think this is a good question to ask and personally I think the answer is a resounding yes, but it’s fundamentally tied up with the answer to the second question.
What do we, as a community, want the HER benchmarks for?
I think that the HER benchmarks can be used to define what a HER or HER service is. Thanks to the NPPF access to a HER is now a requirement for a planning authority, but although we have a lot of guidance (IFP2 etc.), we seem to lack a full and proper definition. Personally I think this is important in helping us to protect our services at a time when discretionary spending in local authorities is under such pressure. I also feel that reporting our progress against the benchmarks helps inform those authorities supporting the HER as to the range and quality of the service which they are paying for. Furthermore, failure to reach a national benchmark or standard is valuable evidence when trying to garner support for HER development.
How do we measure ourselves against the benchmarks?
Personally I think the HER Audits should be an important part. The audit should provide the baseline data from which we can measure ourselves against the benchmarks, BUT we will still need some form of external moderation if we are to achieve a robust measurement. Should this be an integral part of the English Heritage audit or perhaps we could submit our assessment to our regional ALGAO HER groups for comment? With the latter, it does provide an opportunity to provide an ALGAO ‘stamp of approval’, the former English Heritage’s.
Historic Environment Records Officer
Cheshire Archaeology Planning Advisory Service
Tel: 01244 973667
Location: The Forum, Chester, Cheshire, CH1 2HS.
From: Issues related to Historic Environment Records [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of MacLean, Sarah
Sent: 28 October 2013 08:05
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: B&A2013 - Welcome to the HER Benchmark and Audit Discussion
Today we are launching the HERs Benchmarks and Audits discussion here on HER Forum. The discussion will remain open until 5pm on 15th November to ensure as many list members are able to participate as possible. For the background to this discussion please refer to my e-mail of last week - https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/cgi-bin/webadmin?A2=herforum;620e7b93.1310 . Before we start I thought it would be useful to outline how we intend for this to work.
Last week we provided some broad themes we hope to cover in the course of the discussion. To help structure and focus the discussion, and to start things off, we have set out a number of specific questions at the end of this e-mail (although discussion is not limited to these).
As mentioned in my previous e-mail we have put a copy of the 2002 Benchmark report and the current Audit specification in the file area for reference. The files are in a folder called 'Benchmark and Audit Discussion' (see https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/cgi-bin/filearea.cgi?LMGT1=HERFORUM&f=/Benchmark_and_Audit_Discussion)
The HER Forum list will still be open for business as usual so do feel free to post on other topics. To make it easier to follow the discussion please include B&A2013 in the subject line of your e-mail.
The HER Forum e-mail list is open to anyone with an interest in HERs and all list members are welcome to participate in the discussion. Please can you ensure that when you post, even as a reply, you sign off with your name and organisation (if applicable). Can I also take this opportunity to remind list members that the HER Forum archives are publically available online and can be read by non list members.
If you want to change your e-mail settings please use the HER Forum FAQ (available here https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/cgi-bin/filearea.cgi?LMGT1=HERFORUM) for details on how to do this.
We always welcome feedback on the format of these discussions, what worked and what didn't. Please get in touch with me off list if you have any comments (including ideas for future topics) we can use to improve future discussions.
If you have any queries about this specific discussion, please get in touch with me off list.
The discussion is now open. To start off the discussion the questions we would like you to consider are:-
* Do you currently use the benchmarks?
* If so, for what purpose?
* If you do not use the benchmarks, why?
* How do you see development of the benchmarks going forward?
* How do you see the inter-relationship between benchmarks and the HER audit process?
In your response it would be helpful if you could indicate if you have undertaken an audit, and if so when.
Over to you!
We hope you will all enjoy the discussion.
Sarah MacLean MA MIfA
Heritage Information Partnerships Supervisor English Heritage Designations Department Engine House Firefly Avenue Swindon
Telephone: 01793 414880
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