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

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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 an attainment dataset from DfE named the Feasibility All Education Dataset for England (AEDE) to create a useful resource for research. The final longitudinal dataset covers the academic years 2001/02 to 2014/15and includes data from all local-authority maintained schools in England. Around seven 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?

The feasibility of the GUIE project was confirmed by successfully linking 2011 Census data and an extract of the Feasibility AEDE dataset. This Proof of Concept (PoC) study 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.

In October 2021, a meeting was also held between GUIE project partners and the ADR England Children & Young People Representative Panel to discuss the potential of the GUIE dataset. This report captures the main findings of the discussion with the intention to inform the future use of the GUIE dataset.

The Growing Up in England dataset will be made 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.

Categories: Data linkage programmes, ADR England, Office for National Statistics, Children & young people

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