New Longitudinal Education Outcomes data made available for public good research

What is LEO?

LEO brings together de-identified administrative data from education, social care and the labour market, enabling researchers to study people’s journeys through childhood and into adulthood. Its purpose is to enhance the life chances of current and future learners, by improving the evidence base available to central and local government, the broader education system, and the public.

More specifically, LEO draws together education records from schools, including national achievement test scores and qualifications, and further and higher education institutions. These are linked to information on employment and self-employment, earnings and out-of-work benefit claims from His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and the Department for Work and Pensions.

What is included in the new iteration of LEO?

The new iteration of LEO shared via the ONS Secure Research Service incorporates data from all of these datasets up to 2020-21. It also includes new links to data on:

  • university applications from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS)
  • the places individuals work from the Inter-Departmental Business Register
  • individuals’ participation in the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or Self-Employment Income Support Scheme during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) data

The UCAS data that has been initially linked to LEO contains the de-identified university applications of all 18-year-old applicants in England, including information on courses, offers received, predicted grades and some background characteristics. This will support researchers to understand more about how university applications and offers vary across background characteristics not captured in the UCAS data, for example, by early attainment in primary school or special educational needs (SEN) status.

It will also enable researchers to gain greater understanding of the role of individual preferences and predicted grades in generating links between socioeconomic background, education choices, and later outcomes. For example, researchers will be able to explore whether the benefits of going to university remain the same for individuals who made the same application decisions but ended up in different institutions. In future, data on applicants of all ages will be added to LEO.

Inter-Departmental Business Register data

The Inter-Departmental Business Register data is a comprehensive list of businesses that pay Value-Added Tax (VAT) or operate a Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) scheme. Linking it to LEO will allow researchers to establish the business in which an individual works (via a pseudonym – a numerical code used instead of the business’s name to prevent the identification of businesses or individuals).

Researchers will be able to access some information about that business, such as the industry in which it is based. They will also be able to identify which individuals work together, and whether individuals who are trained in particular subjects go on to work in similar industries. This will allow the research community to address important questions about the links between education, skills and productivity, and how this varies across firms or industries.

ADR UK funding to support the development of LEO

ADR UK have provided funding for a project led by Dr Claire Crawford from the UCL Centre for Education Policy & Equalising Opportunities (CEPEO) and a small team of researchers from CEPEO, the University of Warwick and the Institute for Fiscal Studies. This funding is enabling the team to work in partnership with the LEO programme team in the Department for Education (DfE) to help develop the LEO external access offer – in other words, to support DfE to make faster progress in reducing the ‘skill-bar’ required for researchers to use LEO successfully. This includes, for example, delivering a range of training and capacity building activities.

Find out more

More information about LEO, including how to access the data, can be found on the website. ONS accredited researchers can also join a LEO user community, which provides additional resources and support, including a user guide, previous publications, and a space to put questions about the data to more experienced users. To access the community, accredited researchers should sign up for a KHub account, then email their ONS accreditation number to

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