Children & Young People

Children and Young People is one of ADR UK’s flagship research themes. It is aimed at enabling a more comprehensive assessment of the experience of childhood in the UK to in turn develop a better understanding of what does and doesn’t work in public sector services for children and young people. This includes assessing trends in vulnerability, wellbeing and welfare in early life, and their impact upon later life experiences.

One of the primary datasets created in the Children & Young Children theme is being curated by ADR UK partner the Office for National Statistics (ONS). ONS has brought together 2011 Census data with attainment data from the Department for Education (DfE) to create an anonymised longitudinal dataset on children. The attainment data comes from the All Education Dataset for England (a longitudinally linked cohort dataset designed by DfE in collaboration with ONS Admin Data Census), which includes KS4 and KS5 qualifications. Around two million records have been matched to the 2011 Census, producing a significant sample size for analysis.

This anonymised dataset allows children to be connected to their households, enabling more accurate measurement of how family background, school type and geography shape children’s educational outcomes and social mobility. Analysis of this data is already being taken forward by the Centre for Equalities and Inclusion at the ONS.

In addition, ADR UK is working closely with the Children’s Commissioner for England as part of the Commissioner’s broader Data for Children Partnership. The Partnership is an initiative to bring together agencies and institutions working with children and/or children’s data or representing children and those who work with them to improve the use and impact of data about children, in the interests of children. This includes a substantial strand of work using the newly-linked dataset, seeking to improve measurement of the experiences, welfare and wellbeing of children.

The linked data will soon be available to external researchers in the ONS Secure Research Service. Researchers need to be accredited and submit a successful application to access the data. Check back here for more information coming soon.

The All Years Dataset: Linking children’s health and education data for England

This 18-month programme of work – a partnership between University College London (UCL), NHS Digital, DfE and ADR UK – aims to create a research-ready dataset with appropriate information governance that links longitudinal education records for all children in England (National Pupil Database, NPD) with their NHS hospitalisation records (Hospital Episode Statistics, HES) from 2001 onwards. This includes the records of around 16 million children; the ‘All Years Dataset’.

The data linkage will facilitate future research across a range of health and social science disciplines and will support research to improve policymaking for children’s health, education and wellbeing. Strategic research, based on an existing linked education-HES dataset of two million children, will validate linkage and other aspects of data quality, generate policy-relevant exemplar research and metadata for wider use of the All Years Dataset, and support public involvement.

The benefits of this work are manifold. Scotland, Wales and the Nordic countries are increasingly using linked data to improve health and education for children with chronic conditions, but use in England is patchy. Linked health-education data in England could be used to improve understanding of the drivers of educational outcomes and to evaluate interventions across health and education to improve equity of service provision.

Looked-after children

ADR Northern Ireland (ADR NI) and ADR Wales are conducting important work examining the lives of looked-after children. Currently, ADR NI is linking 30 years’ worth of individual-level social services data from the Social Services Care Administrative and Records Environment to prescribed medication data, hospital data, the registry of self-harm and death records and the Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study (NILS), creating the UK’s first historical, population-wide cohort of those known to social services as children.

Initially, research using the data linked by ADR NI will examine the changes in the profile of children known to social services over the last three decades, investigate the variations in mental and physical health outcomes of this cohort, and provide an understanding of the effect of critical periods and transitions.

Scotland has high quality data about children, though it is currently not organised in a way that would allow research on a range of outcomes and how they vary across Scottish society. ADR Scotland has a new research programme dedicated to children and young people’s outcomes, and is working to link the pupil census data for Scotland with Scottish Government data on looked after children, children’s health, births and deaths, and the 2001/2011 national census.

It is also bringing together data on attendance, absence and exclusion from school, child protection, secure care for children, exam qualifications, school leaver destinations, and child wellbeing. This will allow researchers to paint a picture of academic achievement, health, economic activity and wellbeing. This will tie in with the national ambitions for people in Scotland, which are captured in the National Performance Framework, namely that children grow up loved, safe and protected so they can reach their full potential.

Having a Scotland-wide linked dataset that provides a set of outcomes for children, and brings in data on inequalities, will help researchers build a more thorough understanding of the experience of children in the country. Decision makers can then be better informed on how best to meet Scotland's ambitions for children.

ADR Scotland is also creating a ‘Positive Youth Development’ dataset, linking information from the Aberdeen Children of the 1950s study to prescribing data in order to investigate the effects of childhood on later mental health.

More in-depth information about the individual research projects being undertaken within this theme can be explored below.

Children & Young People News

Explore other Research Themes

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