Data protection: how we collect and share research data

How we collect and share pupil, child and workforce data for research and statistical purposes.

The Department for Education has specific legal powers to collect the pupil, child and workforce data held by schools, local authorities and awarding bodies. For more information on the legislation which allows this, please see section 114 of the Education Act 2005, section 537A of the Education Act 1996, and section 83 of the Children Act 1989.

This data forms a significant part of our evidence base and is used in many ways, including:

Once collected, all pupil-level data is held by the national pupil database.

Data usage

The law allows us to share data with certain third parties including schools, local authorities, other government departments and agencies under the Education (Individual Pupil Information) (Prescribed Persons) (England) Regulations 2009 SI 2009/1563.

We can share pupil-level information either directly from regular data returns collected from schools and local authorities, or from the data held in the national pupil database. Full details can be found in national pupil database: user guide and supporting information.

Access to individual pupil data is subject to requesters complying with terms and conditions imposed under contractual arrangements and a rigorous request approval process.

Selected individual pupil data may also be shared with the Office for National Statistics for the development of population and migration statistics and electoral registration officers to assist them in the development of electoral registers.

The department may decide to share pupil and children’s information with third parties on a case-by-case basis where it is satisfied that to do so would be in accordance with the law and the Data Protection Act (1998), and where it considers that such disclosure would promote the education or well-being of children.

The Education (Supply of Information about the School Workforce)(No.2)(England) Regulations 2007 allows us to share workforce data with the following third parties:

We only hold information provided to us by third parties such as schools, local authorities and awarding bodies. We do not generate any new information about individuals, and the data provided to us is only used to make decisions about educational policy on an aggregate statistical basis.