Growing Up in England: Linking 2011 Census and education data for children

The Growing up in England (GUIE) dataset will enable a more comprehensive understanding of how factors such as family background, school type and geography shape outcomes. This will allow researchers to shine light on what does and doesn’t work in supporting children and young people to thrive and give policymakers valuable evidence for developing services that work better for all.

The dataset

ONS has linked 2011 Census records to attainment data from a bespoke extract of DfE data named the All Education Dataset for England (AEDE) to create a useful resource for research. Five years of attainment information for a cohort of children who were in Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5 in the 2010/2011 academic year is included in the data, up to the year 2014/2015, from local-authority maintained schools in England. Around two million records have been matched, producing a significant sample size for analysis.

What is the potential of this newly linked data?

The Children’s Commissioner for England's 2017 review of childhood vulnerability identified an evidence gap in information about the lives of vulnerable children. The GUIE dataset can help address this gap by enabling researchers to investigate how a child's circumstances and characteristics, and those of others in their household, influence educational attainment. No other data source has this level of insight on children who are vulnerable or of concern by virtue of their circumstances; for example, children caring for others, children with a disability or ill-health and children from workless families.

The creation of this linked dataset will enable a breadth of new research questions to be answered; questions that are much more difficult to answer using traditional data collection methods such as surveys. Children are a vulnerable group, and capturing useful data about their lives can be tricky.

Research questions that the GUIE dataset could help to answer include:

  • Is there a relationship between personal/familial characteristics and educational attainment?
  • What are the educational outcomes for Roma, Gypsy and Traveler children and young people?
  • What are the underlying drivers of geographical differences in educational attainment?

A feasibility study using the newly linked GUIE dataset was conducted by the ONS Centre for Equalities and Inclusion to test the use of the data for providing insights on personal characteristics, educational attainment, household characteristics, vulnerable groups and geography. You can see the full report detailing the findings, published July 2020, on the ONS website.

The Growing Up in England dataset will soon be available to external researchers via the ONS Secure Research Service. Researchers will need to be approved and submit a successful application to access the data. Sign up to our mailing list to be first to hear when the data becomes available.

This project is funded by ONS via its core grant from the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) as an ADR UK partner.

Category: Data linkage programmes, Office for National Statistics, ADR England, Children & Young People

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