Data Resource: the National Pupil Database (NPD)

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Matthew Alexander Jay Louise Mc Grath-Lone Ruth Gilbert
Published online: Mar 20, 2019


Introduction
The National Pupil Database (NPD) is a record-level administrative data resource curated by the UK government’s Department for Education that is used for funding purposes, school performance tables, policy making, and research.


Processes
Data are sourced from schools, exam awarding bodies, and local authorities who collect data on an on-going basis and submit to the Department for Education either termly or yearly.


Data contents
NPD contains child-level and school-level data on all pupils in state schools in England (6.6 million in the 2016/17 academic year). The primary module is the census, which has information on characteristics and school enrolment. Other modules include alternative provision, exam attainment, absence and exclusions. Data from children’s social care are also available on children referred for support and those who become looked after. Children’s records are linkable across different modules and across time using a nationally unique, anonymised child-level identifier. Linkage to external datasets has also been accomplished using child-level identifiers.


Conclusions
The NPD is an especially valuable data resource for researchers interested in the educational experience and outcomes of children and young people in England. Although limited by the fact that children in private schools or who are home schooled are not included, it provides a near-complete picture of school trajectories and outcomes for the majority of children. Linkage to other datasets can enhance analyses and provide answers to questions that would otherwise be costly, time consuming and difficult to find.


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