New linked data on pupil outcomes, attendance and exclusions open up research possibilities

New data from schools is now linked to the data from Understanding Society, the UK Household Longitudinal Study, creating new opportunities for researchers to track the impact of social and economic situations, health, lifestyle and parental attitudes on the performance of pupils.

Understanding Society provides rich data from 40,000 households across the UK on socio-economic situations, health, attitudes and behaviours. Through the data linkage it is now possible for researchers to track the educational pathways of children and young adults in the study from reception class up to A-levels.

Researchers can now use the study’s linked data to explore the connection between household characteristics and events and children’s school records including exam results, absence and exclusion histories.

Researchers can work with the data to explore questions such as how family composition affects children’s grades, whether parenting styles are likely to improve children’s school results and how children’s health affects their absence rates.

The English National Pupil Database, which has been recording children’s attainment since 1996, is now linked to Understanding Society. New topics have been added to the linked education records that were first released in February 2015 and can be accessed with the main Understanding Society data set from the UK Data Service under the Secure Access License.

Understanding Society data is now linked to the following education data:

  • School absences (2006-2013)
  • Temporal and permanent exclusions from school (2006-2012)
  • Attainment at ages 5, 7, 11, 14 and 16 and new records on Key Stage 5 results (for mostly 17-19-year-olds) have now been added.

Dr Birgitta Rabe, Research Fellow at ISER said:

“These new data sets build upon our existing data linkage files and will allow researchers more opportunities to investigate the relationships between the rich longitudinal data from Understanding Society and outcomes recorded in school administrative data. The linkage means household circumstances and changes can be measured against academic achievement to investigate questions such as, does the household income affect children’s test scores?”

Understanding Society also offers unique opportunities to link in data about schools. Codes of schools that children in the survey attend and those that young adults last attended are collected every two waves. School codes for waves 3 and 5 have been recently released and are available from the UK Data Service through Special License access. Using these codes researchers can link to the information collected in the survey on pupils and school leavers and receive information about:

  • the quality of schools (e.g. from school performance tables)
  • school composition (by ethnicity, free school meal eligibility etc.)
  • financial resources used in schools
  • teachers

Read more about the linked data and Understanding Society and how to access the data


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