Education Outcomes Linkage 2018/19 - Northern Ireland

The Education Outcomes Linkage 2018/19 is a longitudinal relational database comprised of a range of tables containing schools’ data for pupils aged 14 and over in Northern Ireland. It links together a number of datasets held by the Department of Education in Northern Ireland; the school census (including attendance data); the school leavers survey; and the exams database.   

The Education Outcomes Linkage is the first edition of this dataset and is the first stage of the development of a Longitudinal Education Outcomes database for Northern Ireland. The Longitudinal Education Outcomes dataset was developed by the Department for Education, England and is a dataset which connects individuals’ education data with their earnings, benefits and tax data. There are also Scottish and Welsh equivalents.

Future stages of development of the Education Outcomes Linkage will include the addition of more years of data and new datasets including further and higher education information.

The dataset was developed by Department of Education, Department for Economy and NISRA Research Support Unit.

Component datasets and linkage

The dataset includes five tables, all of which are linkable using the common EOL_PID (pupil ID) variable. Only pupils who are present both the school census 2018/19 and the exams database 2018/19 are included in the Education Outcomes Linkage 2018/19. These two tables (school census 2018/19 and exams database) act as the spine for the linkage. Some pupils will not appear in the attendance table or the school leavers survey table and not every pupil in 2018/19 school census will appear in the school census 2015/16-2017/18.

Timeframe Exams database 2018/19 (with previous years exams for those in 2018/19). School leavers survey 2018/19. School census and attendance 2018/19 (and 2015/16 - 2017/18 for those in 2018/19).
Update Frequency Annual
Population Pupils aged 14+
Coverage Northern Ireland only
Size 53,000
Education Outcomes Linkage 2018/19 - Northern Ireland


Examples of research questions

  • What are the best predictors of educational attainment?
  • How do the outcomes of students eligible for Free School Meals differ from those who are not?
  • What are the educational outcomes of students with Special Educational Needs (SEN)?
  • What is the relationship between factors such as geographical comparisons, ethnicity, religion, and first language and exam performance?

Other supporting resources

Resource Description
Synthetic data Available for this dataset on request. Please contact
Schools' census Information about the schools’ census.
School leavers survey Information about the school leavers survey.

Published research using the data

The first project using the dataset, ‘Post-primary school size and educational outcomes in Northern Ireland’, is examining the post-primary school size in Northern Ireland and its impact, if any, on qualifications as a key educational outcome. It will take account of other drivers of educational outcomes at the pupil, school and area level. The results could be used to inform area planning policies in respect to post-primary education by the Department of Education in Northern Ireland.

Accessing the data

Access to the dataset is limited to researchers with accredited researcher status under the Digital Economy Act. Accredited researchers can apply for project approval by each of the data providers and the UK Statistics Authority Research Accreditation Panel.

Further information on how to apply for approval is available on the NISRA Research Support Unit page.

Education Outcomes Linkage data held by NISRA RSU can be accessed through either the NISRA Secure Environment in Colby House or via the ONS Secure Research Service.

Information about policy research priorities

The Education Outcomes Linkage 2018-19 can offer an evidence base for policy development and decision making as well as the monitoring of public policy in Northern Ireland. Research questions which it could inform include:

  • the impact of free school meals
  • the best predictors of educational attainment
  • an exploration of special educational needs outcomes
  • the impact of geography, ethnicity, religion, and first language on exam performance    
  • area planning including the impact of school size on education attainment.