Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) is a world-leading dataset created by the Department for Education. It contains de-identified information on the characteristics, education, employment, benefits, and earnings of people in Britain. The dataset is a unique source of information, with the potential to provide transformative insight and evidence on the longer-term labour market outcomes and educational pathways of (currently) around 38 million individuals. The version of LEO shared via the ONS Secure Research Service has a focus on those who have participated in the education system in England and forms part of the ADR England portfolio. 

This year the Department for Education has linked a new series of datasets into LEO and has made them available via the Secure Research Service. LEO has always included records from schools and higher and further education institutions. This year, the team has linked in new data on university applications from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. Researchers can also now gain greater insight about the places that individuals work, through a new linkage to Inter-Departmental Business Register data. Finally, for researchers interested in the long-term effects of the pandemic on younger workers, data from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Income Support Scheme have also been linked in. 

Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) data

The UCAS data that has been initially linked to LEO contains the university applications of all 18-year-old applicants in England. This includes information on the courses to which individuals have applied and whether they received an offer, as well as predicted A-level (or equivalent) grades and some limited background characteristics. This will support researchers to understand more about how university applications and offers vary across background characteristics not captured in the UCAS data, for example, by early attainment in primary school or special educational needs status.  

It will also enable researchers to gain greater understanding of the role of individual preferences and predicted grades in generating links between socioeconomic background, education choices, and later outcomes. For example, the addition of UCAS data will enable researchers to compare individuals who made the same application decisions but ended up in different institutions, or who may have made different choices if they had applied to university with actual rather than predicted grades, to explore whether the benefits of going to university remain the same. In future, data on applicants of all ages will be added to LEO. 

Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR) data

The IDBR data is a comprehensive list of businesses that pay Value-Added Tax (VAT) or operate a Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) scheme. Linking it to LEO will allow researchers to distinguish the business in which an individual works (via a pseudonym – a numerical code used instead of the business’s name to prevent the identification of businesses or individuals). Researchers will be able to access some information about that business, such as the industry in which it is based. They will also be able to identify which individuals work together, and whether individuals who are trained in particular subjects go on to work in similar industries. This will allow the research community to address important questions about the links between education, skills and productivity, and how this varies across firms or industries.