Thematic Research Overview: Education

This thematic overview aims to provide a snapshot of how data managed or owned by the ONS was used for research under the theme of education between December 2011 and March 2022. This snapshot covers: which datasets were used in the Secure Research Service (SRS), how they were used, the research themes addressed, and what organisations and institutions were undertaking the analysis.

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Insight into the way we educate individuals and the impact of educational experiences on society requires the use of robust and connected data sources.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) Secure Research Service (SRS), Administrative Data Research UK (ADR UK) and Department of Education work alongside other key stakeholders to provide rich de-identified, unpublished datasets, including survey and administrative data, that offer real potential for analysis and innovative research.

The SRS is a trusted research environment that provides accredited researchers access to this data for research projects in the public good. The SRS has more than 600 live research projects covering a range of topics and analytic purposes. These are addressed by researchers across sectors, using a variety of quantitative methodologies.

Impact of this overview

This thematic overview of research on education using data available in the SRS can help answer a broad range of questions. The questions covered different levels of educational provision in the UK, with a notable interest in outcomes, inequality, and levelling-up. Many projects evaluated a policy, programme, or an intervention, especially those affecting primary or Key Stage 2 education. The span of research undertaken suggests a motivation to improve educational outcomes for children and young people, especially those who may not be gaining maximum benefit from the mainstream system.

By identifying published outputs and tangible outcomes from research projects, this synthesis report highlights the importance of quantitative work to inform policy and redirect funding to areas that can make a difference.

Since March 2022, education projects using newer educational datasets like Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) and Growing Up in England (GUIE) have publicly available outputs and impact to include in future thematic overviews. These datasets offer fantastic opportunities to further enrich the capability of research on education and young people.

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