Department for Education publishes new areas of research interest
The Department for Education (DfE) has published its Areas of Research Interest (ARI) document. The publication sets out the DfE’s research priorities and the key areas in which it wants to work with the research community. These priorities will be used as part of an ADR UK-funded programme to help make research more policy relevant and to have greater impact.
DfE’s ambition is to use these areas of research interest as a platform to build external researcher engagement, drawing on colleagues across government, academia, research funding agencies, research providers and more. By aligning their research to policy areas where better evidence is needed, researchers can generate insights that will inform decisions to improve lives.
The areas of research interest are listed as questions under the headline topics:
- early years and family support
- vulnerable children
- artificial intelligence and technology.
Publishing the research interests supports the DfE’s ambition to ensure the department continues to be informed by the best available evidence to contribute to its priority strategy, policy and delivery decisions. The areas of research interests are not exhaustive.
Areas of research interest support the Data Access and Engagement Programme
The DfE already engages externally in a variety of ways but now plans to do this more systematically. Linked to this publication, a series of engagement events will facilitate collaboration between research experts, external organisations, DfE analysts and policy colleagues on each of the topic areas.
This work is part of a three-year ADR UK-funded programme of work in which the DfE is streamlining access for accredited researchers to the department’s administrative data. The improvement programme aims to make it easier and faster for accredited researchers to gain access to the data they need and maximises the value of linked education data.
Streamlining secure access to DfE data
The strategic vision for data sharing within the DfE is to speed up access to de-identified DfE data for accredited research by sharing more data via the ONS Secure Research Service using the legal gateway provided by the Digital Economy Act.
Prior to the start of the ADR UK-funded programme, only the Longitudinal Education Outcomes and the Growing Up in England datasets were available through the simplified model. Good progress has been made in the first year of this programme with numerous additional datasets already available for research applications under the streamlined model using the Digital Economy Act. These include:
- Childcare and Early Years Survey of Parents – England made available in February 2023
- Further Education Workforce Data Collection – England made available in October 2023
- Second iteration of Longitudinal Education Outcomes made available in October 2023.
Dr Emma Gordon, Director of ADR UK and ADR England said: “With the DfE engaging the research community in the publication of their areas of research interest and working towards increasingly streamlined access to datasets using the legal gateway afforded by the Digital Economy Act, we are facilitating a real step-change in policy-relevant research.”