Guidance

How to access Department for Education (DfE) data extracts

How to apply for data extracts from the National Pupil Database (NPD), School Workforce, Individualised Learner Record and Higher Education Statistics Agency.

We are working with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to enable access to de-identified individual level data for research.

For most applications, Department for Education (DfE) data will now be provided though the ONS Secure Research Service.

Access to the Secure Research Service may not be suitable if your request meets one or more of the following conditions:

  • data is being processed to fulfil an essential public task (the data used is essential to run education and children’s services)
  • you’re doing research funded by, commissioned by, or contracted to the DfE or other government departments and the Secure Research Service is not suitable
  • you have approval from DfE before 1 June 2018, with agreement you would receive an extract, and the Secure Research Service is not suitable
  • you want to re-use data already held by your requesting organisation and within the existing licence period

If any of these apply, you should contact data.sharing@education.gov.uk.

Applications made before 1 May 2018

Any application received before 1 May 2018 is being processed and we will contact you. You do not need to re-apply.

If you submitted an application after this date, unless we have contacted you to treat your case as an exception, you need to submit a new application.

Apply for access to DfE data

Before applying for education data using the Secure Research Service, you must have a basic disclosure certificate that is no more than 2 years old.

Anyone who needs to access the Secure Research Service will also need to be accredited under the ONS approved researcher scheme. We recommend that you begin this process as soon as possible and take steps to become accredited by ONS in parallel to your application. Contact research.support@ons.gov.uk with any questions.

When you are ready to make an application, please contact data.sharing@education.gov.uk and we’ll:

  • send you an application form and guidance to complete it – including the new method for classifying data identification risk and sensitivity levels
  • let you know what data is available and the best way to access it
  • help you through the Data Sharing Approval Panel (DSAP) approval process
  • provide the final agreement and declaration for you to sign

We maintain strict governance checks around the legality, proportionality, public benefit and security of requests.

Accessing the data using the Secure Research Service

Once you are an ONS approved researcher and your data application has been approved, there are 2 ways you can access DfE data for approved projects through the Secure Research Service. You can use:

  • physical labs – you can book a session to access DfE data at 1 of 5 ONS locations across the UK
  • remote access – once your organisation meets security standards and have organised connectivity with ONS, you can access data online using your own equipment subject to specified conditions

For more details on how to become approved for remote access, please contact research.support@ons.gov.uk.

Standard data extracts

A number of National Pupil Database (NPD) de-identified individual level ‘standard extracts’ for each academic year are now readily available in the Secure Research Service. It will be possible to link these extracts at a pupil level. If you apply to use standard extracts, we can approve your request and provide access more quickly.

An overview of the standard extracts is in the table below. For more information about which standard extracts might meet your project requirements contact data.sharing@education.gov.uk.

Data extract Academic years
Early Years Census data and Alternative Provision Census 2007/08 to 2017/18
School Census data (autumn, spring and summer) 2012/13 to 2017/18
3-Term absence data, exclusions data, and post 16 learning aims – from the school census (PLAMS Amended) 2012/13 to 2016/17
National Client Caseload Information System (NCCIS) 2011/12 to 2016/17
Early years foundation stage profile (EYFSP) attainment data, with key pupil data from the appropriate spring School Census 2012/13 to 2016/17
Key stage 1 pupil data with key pupil data from the appropriate spring School Census, matched to Early years foundation stage profile (EYFSP) attainment data 2012/13 to 2016/17
Key stage 2 pupil data, with key pupil data from the appropriate spring School Census, matched to key stage 1 prior attainment 2012/13 to 2016/17
Key stage 2 exam level data 2012/13 to 2016/17
’Final’ key stage 4 Pupil data, with key pupil data from the appropriate spring School Census, matched to key stage 3 (where available), key stage 2, key stage 1 prior attainment 2012/13 to 2016/17
Key stage 4 exam level data 2012/13 to 2016/17
‘Final’ key stage 5 student data, with key pupil data from the appropriate spring School Census, matched to key stage 4, key stage 3, key stage 2 and key stage 1 prior attainment 2012/13 to 2016/17
Key stage 5 exam level data 2012/13 to 2016/17

Bespoke extracts

If your project requires more data than is available in the NPD standard extracts, you can apply for a bespoke data extract. Bespoke data requests take longer than the standard extracts to create and approve.

Bespoke linked NPD and HESA data will be available to access through the ONS Secure Research Service soon and we will update this page when this is available.

Future developments

We are continuing to improve the ways you can access DfE data. Planned future developments include:

  • an online application process
  • more readily available standard extracts, based on the most requested data
  • publicly available synthetic data to help test and plan research

For more information on future developments, please contact data.sharing@education.gov.uk.

Published 25 September 2018
Last updated 25 September 2018 + show all updates
  1. Updated the table under 'Standard data extracts'.
  2. First published.