Information on linking to education records

Government departments and agencies collect a range of information about all of us for administrative purposes. This is so they can provide education and other services to us when we need them. While we can learn about people’s lives, economic circumstances, experiences, behaviour and beliefs by asking direct questions, it can sometimes be easier to obtain some of this information from government departments. Doing this means that we don’t have to ask you about these and the interview can be much shorter. This web page explains more about this. Please take a moment to read it.

What information would be linked?

Education Records including:

  • National tests and formal assessments, for example SATS and GCSEs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and Standard Grades and Highers in Scotland
  • Basic information on pupils like demographic characteristics (including ethnicity), special educational needs, attendance and eligibility for free school meals
  • Further education courses taken, grades and funding
  • Pre-school attended

This information will be added from:

  • In England, the Department for Education.
  • In Wales, the Department for Education and Skills.
  • In Scotland, the Scottish Government Learning Directorate.
  • In Northern Ireland, the Department of Education and the Education Authority.

Who will use it?

Like your survey responses, the additional information would be used by academic and social policy researchers for non-commercial statistical analysis. Any sensitive information would only be made available to them under restricted access arrangements which make sure that the information is used responsibly and safely. Names and addresses are never included in the results and no individual can be identified from the research.

Your permission – what does it cover?

Information can only be released with your permission. To make the link between education records and your survey responses we would need to pass on personal information to the government departments and agencies holding the records. They can then add your/your child’s education records to your survey responses. The necessary personal details include full name, full address, gender, date of birth and school name, where applicable. These details will only be used to identify your information. Before the departments and agencies send any information you have authorised back to us, your name and other details will be removed.

Like the answers you have given us in the survey, the information from other sources will be treated in confidence and in accordance with the Data Protection Act. Your current or future dealings with any of the departments or agencies will not be affected.

How long does your consent last?

We would like to add information relating to your present, past and future circumstances. We would like to continue to link in your data until you complete your school and further education. We will remind you regularly of the permissions you have given, and you are free to withdraw your consent at any time. If you do chose to withdraw your consent we will no longer link your records to your survey responses but we will retain data which has been previously linked if you have given us permission.

What about your children’s information?

We would like to add information on your child(ren) from birth up to age 16. We need to seek parental consent to add information on your children aged under 16. We understand that some children would be able to make this decision on their own behalf. You should make the decision that represents your child’s wishes and best interests. You could discuss this with your child, and you can withdraw your consent at any time. Once your child reaches the age of 16 we will ask your child directly when we next speak to them.

What about data security?

Your survey answers and education records will be anonymised and will only be used for research and statistics. We are very security conscious and all of our systems are password protected and accessed by a small number of authorised staff. The information we need to exchange with the government departments and agencies will be sent via secure transfer systems. We implement the most up to date data security protocols and procedures. Your personal details will be secure at all times.

What if you change your mind?

If you wish to withdraw your permission at any point in the future, please write to Freepost RRXX-KEKJ-JGKS, Understanding Society, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, CO4 3SQ stating: “I < your name>, currently living at < your address and postcode> am a participant on Understanding Society and I wish to withdraw my permission for administrative education data to be added to my survey data.” Please sign and date your letter.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call our Freephone number 0800 252 853 or write to Freepost RRXX-KEKJ-JGKS, Understanding Society, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, CO4 3SQ.

PRIVACY NOTICE

Linking education records held by the Department for Education (DfE) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to survey data held by the Economic and Social Research Council

The DfE hold education details for those born since 1984 who attended school in England and those born since 2008 attending pre-school in England. For the purposes of the Data Protection Act, the DfE is the data controller.

BIS hold further education records from publicly funded colleges, training organisations, local authorities and employers (FE providers). For the purposes of the Data Protection Act, BIS is the data controller.

The DfE/BIS will identify your/your child’s education records and establish this link between these and your/your child’s Understanding Society survey responses. During this process the DfE/BIS will be responsible for ensuring that the personal information used to link your answers to your education records (your name, address, sex, date of birth and school name, as applicable) handled during this process is handled fairly and in compliance with the Data Protection Act. Once a link has been established, the DfE/BIS will delete your/your child’s personal details. They will not keep a copy of these personal details.

How the information passed to DfE/BIS will be used

If you provide permission for your/your child’s education records to be linked to your/your child’s survey answers, the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) at the University of Essex, acting for the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), will pass your/your child’s personal details (such as full name, gender, date of birth, and full address) to the DfE/BIS. These are the minimum details necessary for the DfE/BIS to be able to identify the correct record on the National Pupil Database (NPD) and/or the Early Years Census (EYC) and/or Individualised Learner Record (ILR) so that this information can be linked to the Understanding Society survey information. Your/your child’s personal details (name, address, sex, date of birth and school name) will not be used for any other purpose and the DfE/BIS will delete all personal details passed to them as soon as they have linked the answers with the education records. The education information from the NPD and/or EYC and/or ILRwhich is linked to the Understanding Society survey information will only be used for research and statistical purposes. All personal data will be treated in accordance with the Data Protection Act.

How the information will be stored

All information will be securely stored and transferred via secure transfer systems.

Withdrawing consent to link in education data

You may withdraw permission for your/your child’s education data to be linked at any time, in which case no further links between your answers and their education records would be made However, the education records that had already been linked in up to that date will be kept and used for research and statistical purposes only. If you wish to withdraw your permission, please contact the study at: FREEPOST RRXX-KEKJ-JGKS, Understanding Society, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, CO4 3SQ.

Please ensure that in your notification you tell us if you are withdrawing consent for you or your child/ren and to state your or their name.

Further information

If you would like to know more about the process of data linking or what will be done with the linked data, please see our participants section. If you have any concerns about how your personal data is being stored, handled or used as part of this survey, please contact the study on Freephone 0800 252853 in the first instance.

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