Children & Young People
Childhood plays a pivotal role in who we become as adults: from our educational attainment and progression into work, to how we form relationships with others.
Children and young people are two of the most vulnerable groups in society, and forming a more complete understanding of their lives and of how early experiences affect later life is vital. Investing in research and policy around children and young people will allow us to not only safeguard and support the next generation, but enrich their lives and allow each child and young person the opportunity to excel.
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.
Linking Census and education data for children
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 project – 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.
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.
Improving outcomes for children in Scotland
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 Projects
Outcomes for looked-after children in Northern Ireland
This project will investigate the relationship between childhood interactions with social services and risk of poor health and social outcomes in adulthood.
Meeting the health needs of looked-after children in Scotland
The overall aim of this study is to examine looked after children’s use of unscheduled healthcare in Scotland, comparing those living at home with parents to those living away from home in, for example, kinship care, foster care or residential care.
Children & Young People News
Report provides first insight into newborns in care proceedings in Wales
A team of researchers have become the first to produce a snapshot of the extent to which newborn babies and infants are subject to care proceedings in Wales using data sourced by ADR Wales.
ADR Wales publication looks at impact of Welsh Government early years programme
ADR Wales has published the results of analysis of the Welsh Government’s Flying Start programme which helps families with children under four years old in disadvantaged areas of Wales.
Data linking for the National Evaluation of the Troubled Families Programme
Ricky Taylor and Lan-Ho Man from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) share their experience using linked data to evaluate the 'Troubled Families' programme.
Key questions for children’s services: Identifying the gaps
In July, ADR UK, in collaboration with ONS and the Children's Commissioner, hosted a workshop with experts from a host of organisations to identify the key evidence gaps that research using linked administrative data about children can help to fill.
Research initiative harnesses linked government data to improve children’s services
ADR UK has announced that it is working with the Office for National Statistics and the Department for Education to link and anonymise data from the 2011 Census with education data about England for research purposes.
Find out more
If you are a researcher interested in working with admistrative data within this theme, or a policymaker interested in how ADR UK work can improve your insights and support your decision making in this area, please get in touch.