The value of sharing and linking micro-data is widely recognised. Through opening up access to administrative data held by government organisations, for example, it is possible to encourage collaboration with academic researchers, stimulate innovation and provide further insights into society, ultimately enabling data to better serve the public good. Yet there remain areas of challenge, including the application of existing data protection legislation, the public’s attitude to – and confidence in – data sharing, and the linkage of records across different data systems. In this presentation, we will set out the journey that led to creating the Grading and Admissions Data for England (GRADE), an Ofqual-DfE-UCAS linked administrative dataset available for independent research. We will describe how collaboration and engagement with the research and policy community led us to define the content of GRADE and to overcome some of the challenges of sharing data. The presentation will provide an overview of how this dataset has been used by government analysts to provide policy recommendations in the field of educational assessment, as well as by external researchers to address questions on teacher judgement, inequality and students’ choices before and during the pandemic.
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