Data protection: how we share pupil and workforce data

How and when we share the pupil, child and workforce data we collect.

Data we collect

The Department for Education has legal powers to collect the pupil, child and workforce data that schools, local authorities and awarding bodies hold.

For more information on the legislation which allows this, see:

This data forms a significant part of our evidence base. We use it:

We hold pupil-level data in the National Pupil Database (NPD).

Schools and local authorities must provide privacy notices to staff, parents and pupils to explain how their personal data will be collected and used.

How we share data

The law allows us to share pupils’ personal data with certain third parties, including:

  • schools
  • local authorities
  • researchers
  • organisations who make products connected with promoting the education or wellbeing of children in England
  • other government departments and agencies

Other regulations allow us to share workforce data with a number of third parties.

Anyone who wants to use Department for Education data must comply with:

The Data Protection Act will be replaced by the General Data Protection Regulation from 25 May 2018.

How we meet ethical standards

We only share data when it’s lawful and ethical to do so, and after we’ve considered the following questions:

  • is it in the public interest to share the data?
  • are we only sharing the minimum amount of data and for the shortest possible time to meet the request?
  • does the data sharing comply with the law and have we got the right consent, if needed?
  • does the organisation asking for the data have sufficient security standards themselves and are they aware of statistical disclosure controls?

How we maintain standards in data sharing

DfE has a senior board, the NPD Data Management Advisory Panel, which manages external requests for NPD data.

The board includes senior data and legal experts who meet regularly to consider cases and approve or reject requests.

From March 2018, we plan to:

  • extend this board’s approval process to cover all of our sharing of personal data
  • increase our external data ethics expertise

Who has requested data from us

You can view:

  • data sharing requests approved through the existing NPD Data Management Advisory Panel, covering pupil level data
  • national pupil database third-party requests - these are NPD data shares which are either approved or pending a decision (this gives a wider view of all requests received into the NPD request process)
  • external organisation data shares - our overview of ongoing personal level data sharing delivered via memorandums of understanding, data sharing agreements and service level agreements, including an update on police, Home Office and Family Court Order use of limited parts of our data when they have clear evidence of a criminal activity
Published 26 March 2014
Last updated 14 December 2017 + show all updates
  1. Added links to national pupil database third-party requests and external organisation data shares documents.
  2. Added a link to the privacy notice explaining how we share and handle NPD data that we use for the 'Longitudinal education outcomes study'.
  3. First published.