National Pupil Database

The National Pupil Database (NPD) is now one of the richest education datasets in the world, holding a wide range of information about pupils and students in England and Wales and their education at different phases from age 2 to 19, for all schools, non-maintained special schools, sixth form and further education colleges and (where available) independent schools. The first version of the NPD was produced in 2002, and included information from the first pupil level School Census matched to attainment information. The database includes personal data, such as names, date of birth and address, gender, ethnicity, first language, eligibility for free school meals, awarding of bursary funding for 16-19 year olds, information about special educational needs and detailed information about any absences and exclusions.

Types of personal data

The NPD includes personal data which is identifying and / or sensitive (including highly sensitive data). The lists below provide details of identifying and sensitive data items in the NPD in Tier 1 and Tier 2. There will be circumstances where access to some or all of this data is required to undertake some research or analysis.

Tier 1 data items:

  • Pupil Matching Reference
  • Unique Pupil Numbers (UPN) (aPMR)
  • Unique Learner Numbers (ULN)
  • Exam candidate number
  • Candidate ID
  • Names
  • Home address
  • Postcode
  • Date of birth / age within academic year
  • Year and month of birth
  • Ethnicity (extended ethnic codes)
  • Language (extended language codes)
  • Primary and secondary special educational need (SEN) type
  • Service child indicator
  • Type of disability
  • Pupil Premium indicator
  • Children in Need (CIN) indicators
  • Children Looked After (CLA) / In care indicators
  • Reasons for absence
  • Reasons for exclusion

Tier 2 data items

  • Anonymised Pupil Matching Reference (aPMR)
  • Super Output Area (SOA) and other geographical areas
  • Age and month part of age of pupil at the start of the academic year.
  • Output Area (OA)
  • Ethnic group (20 main group codes)
  • Language group (10 main group codes)
  • SEN provision
  • Free school meals (FSM) eligibility, including Ever FSM indicators
  • Entry date
  • Leaving date
  • Boarder indicator
  • Part-time indicator
  • Pupil mobility indicator
  • Distance to school indicators
  • Persistent absentee indicator

Data collection

Pupil level data is collected from the following types of schools:

  • Nursery - maintained and direct grant nursery schools.
  • Primary - middle deemed primary schools and academies.
  • Secondary - middle deemed secondary schools and academies and City Technology Colleges.
  • Special - maintained and non-maintained special schools, hospital special schools and academies.
  • Special - maintained and non-maintained special schools, hospital special schools and academies.

(Note: References to academies above include free schools.)

Recent updates

The Department for Education (DfE) issued an updated user guide in May 2015 detailing the kind of data is held and the process followed for released.

The DfE release list (updated annually) was published in May 2015 to include recipients of data up to the end of December 2014. The list outlines the types of data which were given and to which organisations. It shows that Tier 1 data (the most sensitive and identifiable individual level items which may include names, date of birth, ethnicity, SEN and address incl. postcodes etc) was given in August 2014 to a journalist at Newsnight and other sensitive data items (Tier 1 and/or 2) have been shared with the Cabinet Office, the Prince’s Trust, and other press.

In July 2015 the DfE updated the suggested template of privacy policies on their website. Research to date shows this information does not reach schools and is not communicated to parents and/or pupils.