Guidance

National pupil database: apply for a data extract

How researchers and third-party organisations can apply for data extracts from the national pupil database.

The national pupil database (NPD) contains detailed information about pupils in schools and colleges in England. The data includes:

  • test and exam results, prior attainment and progression at different key stages for pupils in the state sector
  • attainment data for students in non-maintained special schools, sixth-form and further education colleges
  • information on pupils in independent schools, where available

The database also includes information about pupils’ characteristics, such as:

  • gender
  • ethnicity
  • first language
  • eligibility for free school meals
  • special educational needs (SEN)
  • pupil absence and exclusions

Subject to approval, extracts of this data are available for use by any organisation or person who, for the purpose of promoting the education or well-being of children in England are:

  • conducting research or analysis
  • producing statistics
  • providing information, advice or guidance

Information about the range of data available in the NPD, including example data, can be found in ‘ data sources by year’ and ‘ example data files’.

Data extracts available

The data available in the NPD is divided into 4 tiers and can be requested in a number of different combinations:

  • tier 1 contains the most sensitive personal information
  • tier 2 contains other sensitive personal information, including less sensitive versions of tier 1 data
  • tier 3 contains school-level data
  • tier 4 contains other pupil-level data. For example, attainment, absence and exclusions

From these tiers there are also standard data extracts available, which should fulfil most requests:

  • tier 2 standard extracts
  • tier 4 standard extracts

A full list of what data is available in each of the tiers and standard extracts can be found in the ‘NPD data tables’ and ‘NPD user guide’.

Bespoke requests

Bespoke extracts are available on request. A member of the NPD Data Request team will be able to advise on the approvals process, and whether the information requested is available.

Linked data

The NPD is also linked to the further and higher education sectors, using data from the individualised learner record (ILR) and Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) student record.

You can request linked information in the following combinations:

  • NPD linked to ILR data
  • NPD linked to HESA student record
  • NPD linked to both ILR and HESA
  • individualised learner record linked to HESA student record

A full list of what data is available from the ILR and HESA student record can be found in the ILR and HESA data tables.

How to apply

To request extracts of the NPD or linked data you will need to complete either the ‘NPD data request application form’ or ‘Linked data request application form’ and ‘Information security questionnaire’. You will have to demonstrate that you comply with all relevant requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998, including proving that you or your organisation:

  • are registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office to process personal data or fall within an exemption
  • have appropriate security arrangements in place to process the data
  • intend to use the data only for the specified purpose in your request
  • will keep the data only for the specified length of time
  • will not share the data without our prior written approval

These forms should be filled in electronically and emailed back to the NPD Data Request team.

Contact details

NPD Data Request team

Approval process

There are different approval processes depending on the sensitivity and types of data extract you request.

Tier 1

Requests for extracts from tier 1 can only be approved by our Data Management Advisory panel. In these cases applicants must also give line-by-line explanations for why each sensitive item is required, and why the same outcome cannot be achieved using less sensitive data.

Tiers 2, 3 and 4

Requests for extracts from tiers 2, 3 and 4, will be dealt with by the NPD Data Request team.

Fast track

There is also a fast track process for applications. Full details of the fast track system, and all other approval processes can be found in the ‘NPD user guide’.

Linked data requests

We administer all requests for linked data, but these are referred to:

These bodies will consider your request, and will communicate their decisions to us, including specifying any conditions for the release of their data.

Decisions

We will inform you of all decisions relating to the release of NPD or linked data.

If we need more information, we will ask you to provide this. We will also give feedback explaining reasons why we have rejected a request.

If your application is approved you will be required to sign a licence agreement and provide completed individual declarations for each named user of the data.

Once we receive the signed agreement, and any user declaration forms, the requested data will be transferred securely.

The data will be encrypted and the password will only be released to the named person in the application pack.

Documents

All NPD and linked data request application forms and downloads, including the ‘National pupil database user guide’ and example data sets are available on the National pupil database: document collection.

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