A brand new database called ECHILD (Education and Child Health Insights from Linked Data) has been created that will significantly improve upon the depth and breadth of researcher’s understanding of how health, education and social care can impact the lives of millions of children across England.

This is the first time that over 95% of health and education records in England have been combined through data linkage, to create a secure and anonymised database for research. The ECHILD database is a vital new resource that can be used by approved researchers to gain a more detailed understanding of how children from different backgrounds and areas have different health and educational needs.

Researchers can now generate new and vital evidence about child inequalities in health and education more effectively than before. This will then provide policy makers with new evidence that will allow them to take appropriate action where needed and a more tailored approach.

The creation of ECHILD has also highlighted the importance of gathering good quality data by health, welfare and educational services at the outset, which will further improve upon the accuracy of results. In particular, the ECHILD team discovered that linkage rates were lower for children from ethnic minorities and those living in more deprived areas.

Dr Katie Harron, who led the linkage work said,

The ECHILD database offers a vital resource for research to help policy makers and services understand how pathways through health and education differ for children from different backgrounds, and what might be done to reduce these inequalities.”

The ECHILD Database will be made available for approved researchers later in 2021 for purposes that benefit health, wellbeing, education and the provision of health or social care by the data providers at NHS Digital, the Department for Education and the Office for National Statistics.

For more information and updates, please visit the ECHILD website or email: ich.echild@ucl.ac.uk. You can also contact via the ADR UK website.

For more detailed information on the creation and contents of the new ECHILD research database visit here.

Co-Author, Nicolás Libuy, Research Fellow - Quantitative Social Science at the Institute of Health Informatics, University College London