Many of the blogposts and reports that we produce here at Datalab are based on analysis of the Department for Education’s National Pupil Database (NPD). But what is it?
What is the NPD?
The NPD is a collection of data relating to education in England compiled by the Department for Education.
The NPD is made up of various distinct datasets collected by the DfE, among them the termly school census, the alternative provision census, and results files for national curriculum tests and other public examinations. A full list of the components can be found here (see ‘NPD data tables’).
The NPD is used by the Department for Education itself to inform policy, with extracts of the NPD also available to other approved users “for the purpose of promoting the education or wellbeing of children in England”: education researchers, news organisations and others. Users agree to constraints on what the data can be used for, and the level of detail in which any analysis based on the data can be published. Details of applications to use NPD data are published by the Department for Education.
Data in the NPD is classified into different tiers, depending on its sensitivity. Different rules on access apply to different tiers of data.
What has it been used for?
Since our launch in 2015, among other topics, we have used NPD data to:
- explore ‘off-rolling’ and the gaming of league tables;
- provide evidence in the debate on whether to open new grammar schools;
- look at the impact of long-term disadvantage on a pupil’s progress and attainment;
- explore the impact of the English Baccalaureate performance measure.
Others have used the data to try to answer questions on topics such as the vast improvement in education standards in London in recent years, school choice [PDF] and the attainment of pupils with education as an additional language [PDF].
Disclosure: FFT Aspire, a subscription service providing analyses for schools, local authorities and academy trusts from our parent organisation, FFT, uses DfE NPD and Analyse School Performance data. Commissioned research from Education Datalab also generally uses NPD data. Both FFT and Education Datalab are not-for-profit organisations.
Want to know more?
Further details on the NPD, including a user guide that sets out conditions on access to the data, can be found on the DfE’s website.
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