Educational aspiration and attainment, school systems, transitions in and out of education and the long-term implications of education - Understanding Society can be used to investigate a wide range of issues

Education and skills are crucial in determining major outcomes and decisions in life, such as going to university, employment trajectories, income and health. Each stage of education matters as it opens up or restricts further opportunities.

Dr Birgitta Rabe

Champion for Education

View profile
Birgitta Rabe

What data do Understanding Society collect? 

Understanding Society is a study of individuals within their household context. We interview all members of the household over the age of ten and we ask parents a variety of questions for younger children. In the youth questionnaire (age 10-15) we ask children about their experiences at school and home. With parent's consent, we link the survey information to information about the schools children attend and their school results. Understanding Society is longitudinal, so follows the same people over time. This means we collect information which captures the complex picture of personal and household interactions with education; the effects of institutional performance, different stages of education, family background, ethnicity, deprivation and social norms. 


Using admin data with Understanding Society for education research

Linked data

With the consent of respondents (or their parents, if aged under 16), Understanding Society links responses to children’s school records using the National Pupil Database (NPD) for England. The linked data spans the academic years 1995/6 to 2012/13. We have a specialist user guide to support the use of the NPD linked data.

Questionnaire grid

Find out more about the key topic areas available in the questionnaire that focus on education. The grid includes a summary of the education modules and how often they are repeated.

Topic guide

Find out more about the education content of Understanding Society. This guide provides examples of the kinds of analyses that are possible and points to further resources.   

Latest News


Latest Case Study


Contact our User Support Forum if you need help using the data or have a question for the Study team

Support forum