Individualised Learner Record

IFS researchers sometimes use the Individualised Learner Record (ILR)

As part of their research on the determinants of post-16 educational choices and the effectiveness of further education programmes, IFS researchers sometimes use the Individualised Learner Record (ILR)

The data

The ILR is an administrative dataset collected by education providers on adults (age 19+) undertaking further and vocational education in England. In its entirety it includes information on topics such as attainment, funding, and learner characteristics such as special educational needs and ethnicity. The data are collected by the Department for Education, which uses the information to help it run the further education system in England.

The ILR can also be linked to other datasets, including other administrative data, such as the National Pupil Database, Higher Education Statistics Agency data (HESA), HMRC earning data and DWP data on benefits.

We use extracts from these data depending on which information we need to carry out our research. We do not receive any directly identifying information about you such as your name or address. However, because the data we use is sometimes very detailed, there is a small risk that you could be identified which is why your data are protected by law. To reduce this risk, we carry out data minimisation. This means that is we only request and receive the information that we need to carry out our research. Different research questions use different extracts of data to ensure that we only access data that is strictly necessary for the purpose in question, and all access to the data is strictly limited to the named researchers working on that research project.

What we use the data for

We use the data to conduct research on topics related to further education and vocational education. For instance, we have done research on the determinants of young people’s post-16 education choices. We also use the ILR data to evaluate the impact that specific interventions have on educational outcomes. Finally, links between the ILR and other datasets (such as the HMRC earnings data) facilitate more research that seeks to understand the monetary returns to different post-16 qualifications.

In some cases, processing of the ILR involves the entire population of successive cohorts. In other cases, we process the ILR records of only a subset of students. These data are sometimes linked (by DfE) to other data we have collected, for example surveys from participants in a research evaluation.
Processing of ILR data includes:
Creating summary statistics
Using statistical techniques and modelling to answer research questions

How long we will keep the data?

We will securely hold the ILR data on our servers until July 2025 as part of a research project using the data to evaluate a national educational programme. ILR data that we hold directly on our servers will be securely deleted as projects come to an end.

How do we take care of your data?

Access to these data is restricted and tightly controlled. Applications to use the data are strictly vetted by the Department for Education (DfE) and any researchers have to be approved via the ONS’s Approved Researcher Scheme. Individual researchers are also vetted by the DfE, which among other requirements conducts a criminal record check on all researchers using the NPD data.

We ensure that all our researchers who use these data receive training on how to use the data safely. Only approved researchers working on projects that have been deemed to have public benefit are able to use the data, and they can only use it to answer specific research questions that have been approved in advance. We will only ever publish non-disclosive outputs, which means that it will be impossible to identify you from anything that is published.

Access to any data that we store on our own servers is also very tightly controlled. All researchers are vetted and trained and access is restricted only to those researchers working on the project. In addition, IFS has external accreditation in data security – we are compliant with ISO27001:2013 and we are Cyber Essentials certified.

Legal bases for using the data

For this work, we are working with acting as a data processor of a company called Kantar. They determine the legal basis for using the data.    

Your rights

This webpage is designed to inform you how we are using your data.
Because we cannot identify you and we do not have direct control over the data, it is not possible for us to process other requests in respect of your rights. If you would like to exercise any of your rights please contact the Department for Education [email protected].  They will deal with your request and any outcome of your request will be passed on to us by them.
If you have complaint you can contact the Information Commissioner’s Office

Our contact details

If you wish to discuss the way that we use your data, please contact Imran Tahir [email protected] or you can write to him at

The Institute for Fiscal Studies
7 Ridgmount Street

If you have concerns over the way that we use your data please contact the data protection officer you should email [email protected] or write to them at the above address.