Research at DfE

Find DfE research publications and invitations to tender for new research projects.

Our social research aims to provide high-quality evidence to inform policy development and delivery.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: July 2020

To facilitate new DfE research procurement in response to, and affected by coronavirus (COVID-19), we will be using a range of activities and actions over the coming months, including:

  • issuing Prior Information Notices (PINs) for future research procurements where timing permits and appropriate to do so - this should assist research organisations in preparing for projects that they may wish to tender for
  • issuing PINs through Contracts Finder under the prefix ‘DFERPPU’ and signposted here on our research page
  • providing updated areas of research interest to assist research organisation’s understanding of the our key evidence requirements, including in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • introducing further measures as the situation develops

Research tenders that are not affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) will continue to be published as usual and we will issues PINs where possible.

Until further notice, continue to:

  • check this page for further updates
  • ensure you have set up a Contracts Finder alert for our prefix ‘DFERPPU’ to be notified of future DfE research PINs and opportunities

Areas of research interest

DfE’s areas of research interest sets out the topics we would like to engage external researchers with. We expect to release further areas of research prompted by the challenges posed by coronavirus (COVID-19) shortly.

DfE data for research

Read our guidance on accessing DfE data extracts from the National Pupil Database (NPD), School Workforce, Individualised Learner Record and Higher Education Statistics Agency.

Research projects

We advertise our research projects on Contracts Finder. You can find our projects by searching for ‘DFERPPU’, which is a code that appears on all the department’s project listings. You can also search for previously awarded tenders and contracts.

Use the style guide and template to write your research publications.

Analytical associate pool

The analytical associate pool is a group of independent academics and researchers that we can commission at short notice to provide services such as:

  • a small-scale data analysis
  • a rapid literature review (an overview of published research)
  • primary research (research of new data)
  • a peer review (an evaluation of new research)
  • quality assurance (a quality check)
  • expert advice
  • training

An associate pool project normally costs under £17,500 and runs for up to 12 weeks.

The analytical associate pool has been running since 1 October 2014 and has helped to inform and support DfE’s policies. Read more information on the types of projects.

The contract for the current analytical associate pool ends on 31 March 2021 and we have made the decision to not reopen the pool for new members. We are currently exploring options for the next iteration of the pool which we hope will incorporate all the good practice we have learnt over the last 6 years. Details of what the next version will be and how you can get involved will be added to this page.


You can find our research reports published since May 2010 in GOV.UK’s publications section.

Research published before May 2010 is available from the UK Government Web Archive.

Quality assurance framework

The framework sets out a standardised approach to quality assurance to ensure that analysis is:

  • fit for purpose
  • reliable
  • accurate
  • transparent
  • accountable

Read the DfE quality assurance framework for analysis (PDF, 688KB, 49 pages).