How Government uses your data

The pupil data that we lawfully share with the DfE through data collections:
  • Underpins school funding, which is calculated based upon the numbers of children and their characteristics in each school.
  • Informs ‘short term’ education policy monitoring and school accountability and intervention (for example, school GCSE results or Pupil Progress measures).
  • Supports ‘longer term’ research and monitoring of educational policy (for example how certain subject choices go on to affect education or earnings beyond school)
Data collection requirements

To find out more about the data collection requirements placed on us by the Department for Education (for example; via the school census) go to https://www.gov.uk/education/data-collection-and-censuses-for-schools

The National Pupil Database (NPD)

Much of the data about pupils in England goes on to be held in the National Pupil Database (NPD).

The NPD is owned and managed by the Department for Education and contains information about pupils in schools in England. It provides invaluable evidence on educational performance to inform independent research, as well as studies commissioned by the Department.

It is held in electronic format for statistical purposes. This information is securely collected from a range of sources including schools, local authorities and awarding bodies.

To find out more about the NPD, go to: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-pupil-database-user-guide-and-supporting-information

Sharing by the Department

The law allows the Department to share pupils’ personal data with certain third parties, including:
  • schools
  • local authorities
  • researchers
  • organisations connected with promoting the education or wellbeing of children in England
  • other government departments and agencies
  • organisations fighting or identifying crime
For more information about the Department’s NPD data sharing process, please visit:

https://www.gov.uk/data-protection-how-we-collect-and-share-research-data

Organisations fighting or identifying crime may use their legal powers to contact DfE to request access to individual level information relevant to detecting that crime. Whilst numbers fluctuate slightly over time, DfE typically supplies data on around 600 pupils per year to the Home Office and roughly 1 per year to the Police.

For information about which organisations the Department has provided pupil information, (and for which project) or to access a monthly breakdown of data share volumes with Home Office and the Police please visit the following website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dfe-external-data-shares