Statistics at DfE

The Department for Education publishes official statistics on education and children.

We use data we collect on schools, further and higher education, children and young people to produce official statistics in line with the Code of Practice for official statistics. Read about the standards for official statistics we work to.


20 December 2017: Statistics update

1) Data sharing transparency

On 14 December 2017 the department published details of its third-party record-level data share. We will provide routine updates to this to ensure we are being transparent about how we use citizens’ data.

2) Coherence of DfE statistics and customer insight

We have been working over the last few months to consider how we can develop our statistics and related digital services to provide a more coherent and user-friendly service. We will provide further information in the new year.

3) Unlawfully large class sizes

As set out in the June update, we have shared our guidance on collecting data on unlawfully large class sizes with both school and software suppliers. The feedback from this, alongside a range of other improvements to our data processes and statistics, resulted in our Schools, Pupils and Characteristics statistics being re-designated as national statistics in September this year.

Neil McIvor, DfE Chief Statistician

4 December 2017: Media pre-release access to school performance tables

In recent years the Department for Education has granted 24-hour pre-release access (PRA), for key stage 2, key stage 4 and 16 to 18 school performance tables statistics, to media organisations. This privileged early access was granted on the basis that, the public interest in media organisations having an extending period of time to absorb the data and prepare their reporting, outweighed the potential loss of trust in the statistics that granting early access can lead to.

Over the last year there have been a number of changes to PRA arrangements. The Office for National Statistics stopped all 24-hour external PRA to its statistics, and the Bank of England has done the same.

Having reconsidered the public interest argument, the department will not be granting pre-release access to school performance tables to media organisations when these statistics are published in December (primary) and January (secondary and 16 to 18).

We will work closely with media organisations to ensure they understand the form the statistics will take, and ensure staff are available to answer questions on the day of publication.

Neil McIvor, DfE Chief Statistician

29 June 2017: Statistics update from the Head of Profession for Statistics at DfE

This is an update on work carried out by the statistics teams in the DfE following the commitments made in the statistical update on 16 February 2017.

1) Statistical policies and procedures

Today I have published updated versions of DfE’s statistical revisions policy and its statement of administrative data sources. Further, the department has undertaken a review of personal-level data shares by DfE, and we are committed to presenting an overview of these alongside the next routine update to the published list of national pupil database access requests. We will also be making adjustments to the published list in order to present a more coherent view of data sharing that has been through our governance processes. Having undertaken that review, we are now in a position to take a consistent approach to data sharing governance across all the personal-level data that DfE shares.

2) Customer insight

Our highest-profile statistical outputs are data related to school performance, with the ‘Find and compare schools in England’ service (‘performance tables’) being the access route for most users. As part of ongoing user research in that area, we have been exploring with groups of people for whom we believe our statistics are relevant (for example, parents choosing schools), but who do not access the data, what alternative sources they use and how the service might need to evolve in order to be more attractive to them within their decision making.

We have also been undertaking discovery work with the Open Data Institute to see how a privacy controlling application programming interface (API) has potential to offer a digital service which allows new users to engage with detailed data in an engaging and secure way.

Looking forward, we will continue to use user research and insight opportunities to talk with a wide background of people on how we can continue to grow access to our data and statistical services across a broader set of areas. As we grow the digital, data and technology community and ways of working within DfE, I am confident that customer insight will continue to grow as a fundamental aspect of iterative improvement to our outputs.

3) Coherence of DfE statistics

I have begun initial work within the department to look at how we can better release statistics in a way which gives an overview of publications. For example, we are exploring opportunities to bring together published statistics from the school census. Once we have completed this initial exploratory work we will consult on any proposals to change how we group our publications. This work ties in with our user engagement work detailed above and is part of an effort to move towards a smaller number of high-quality and coherent statistical outputs supported by tools to allow users to drill down into the data while continuing to protect confidentiality.

4) Unlawfully large class sizes

We have now shared our guidance with both schools (as data suppliers) and software suppliers (who facilitate the capture of the data) on unlawfully large class sizes. Both agreed the guidance was clear and when we tested their understanding it showed there was a consistent interpretation of the rules on recording unlawfully large infant classes.

5) Quality assurance

I have today published the framework for quality assurance that we are embedding within the department’s statistics production teams. This work is based on the quality checks undertaken on the school performance tables and my team will be working over the coming months to ensure these principles - which build on well-established quality assurance processes - are integrated into statistics production across the department. I would welcome any comments from users and can be contacted via I will provide a further update before the end of the year.

Mike Jones

DfE Head of Profession for Statistics

Latest statistical releases

Our latest releases of official statistics are available in the statistics release calendar.

Our ad hoc statistics and other data releases can be found in the DfE transparency data section of GOV.UK.

Statistical collections

Forthcoming publications

Regular official statistics

Details of all our upcoming official statistical releases are available in the DfE statistics upcoming release calendar.

Ad-hoc statistics and data releases

We also publish ad-hoc statistics and data releases which are not part of our regular official statistics publications, these are listed below.

Publication date Release title
1 March 2018 Further education: indices of deprivation, England: 2015 to 2016
March 2018 National pupil database tables (autumn census, national client caseload information system, children looked after, children in need, KS4/5 amended/final)
April 2018 National pupil database third-party requests
June 2018 National pupil database tables (spring census, alternative provision, early years census, 3-term absence)
June 2018 Independent learners record, national pupil database
June 2018 Higher education standards agency, national pupil database
August 2018 National pupil database tables (KS2, exclusions, summer census)

Archived statistics

You can find statistics published since May 2010 on GOV.UK. Our archived statistics are available from the UK Government Web Archive.

Contact us

If you have a specific query, please contact the appropriate team. Details will be available at the bottom of each statistical release.

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