DfE works on privacy API for National Pupil Database

Project directed at providing access for research while maintaining confidentiality

The Department for Education (DfE) is aiming to develop a privacy controlling API for access to its National Pupil Database (NPD), the central source of detailed information on schoolchildren in England.

Schoolboys' feetIt has completed a discovery project and is now planning to move it into alpha, with a procurement notice for a supplier to create and test a synthetic NPD dataset on which users can develop queries, prototype the API and articulate its benefits.

The DfE said the aim is to provide secure access to external researchers and analysts – who may contribute to shaping the department’s policy – and to data owners, all while minimising the information risk.

The project is an early step in a broader programme to maximise the benefits of its data by providing fast and secure access to users who can create value.

Data on the NPD includes test and exam results, attainment information on students in special schools, sixth form and further education colleges, and some information on pupils in independent schools. It also has data on features such as ethnicity, eligibility for free school meals and special educational needs.

Currently the DfE takes individual requests for data from credible researchers and analysts, and the development of an API with the appropriate security mechanisms would speed up the process considerably.

Image by mattbuck, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons