Accessing GUS data

From the UK Data Service and elsewhere

On this page you can find out more information about accessing GUS data via the UK Data Service, accessing linked administrative data held elsewhere and download practical resources which provided an introduction to using the data.

Accessing the data

GUS data can be accessed from the UK Data Service (follow the direct link or search for ‘Growing Up in Scotland’ and click ‘Series’). To download the data you will first need to register with the UK Data Service.

An overview of the topics covered at each sweep, and all documentation, including user guides and copies of the questionnaire, are available on this page or from the UK Data Service. Practical help with using GUS data is available here.

If you have questions about using the data, or if you have a research question but don’t have the skills to analyse the data, please contact

If you use GUS, please let us know by emailing

This helps us to keep track of what the data is being used for so that we can demonstrate impact.

Please let us know if you’re interested in discussing your research or your findings with relevant policy officials or practitioners by emailing

Data access arrangements

Protecting the anonymity of GUS participants is of paramount importance to us. Although we take measures to remove obvious identifiers before we archive the data, to ensure that no one attempts to try to identify participants through deductive means, we also apply restrictions on accessing the full datasets.

As such, different access arrangements apply depending on the data you’re looking to use.

Special licence data

Most GUS data are released under ‘Special licence’: BC1 sweeps 1-10(2005-2020), BC2 sweeps 1-3 and a Teacher dataset for BC1 (conducted at the same time as Sweep 8 when children were in Primary 6) are available in this way. Full instructions on how to request access to these data can be found here.

To access these data, you must download and complete a Special Licence application. Applications are initially screened by the UK Data Service and then passed to the data controller (Scottish Government) for explicit approval. Please note that currently applications can take 1 to 2 months to be approved.

The application form requests your details, details of the research team, some information about the research project, details of any data linkage you would like to undertake, and a declaration that you will abide by a set of conditions. Please make sure you read the instructions carefully and provide all the details requested, as not doing so may result in a delay in being granted access.

One of the conditions of access is that you have read and will abide by the Microdata Handling and Security: Guide to Good Practice.

Secure license data

Data that are potentially disclosive are released as ‘Secure’ data and accessed via a virtual secure environment. Selected geographical variables for both BC1 and BC2 and by sweep (e.g. datazones for BC1 sweep 9) and linked early learning and childcare administrative data – again for BC1 and BC2 – are currently available in this way. Full instructions on how to request access to these data can be found here.

Access is currently limited to users in UK HE/FE and requires remote desktop or safe room access. Users must complete a form outlining their experience with using data, the intended purpose and justification for access, which is sent to the data controller (Scottish Government) for approval.

A Secure Lab User Agreement is also required, countersigned by the institution’s contracts office. Users must also undertake specific training as part of these access arrangements (covering relevant legislation, how to use the service safely and Statistical Disclosure Control).


According to UK Data Service regulations, individuals requiring access to datasets must complete their own form and individually sign up to the access terms and conditions. This means it is not possible for a supervisor to apply on a student’s behalf.

We are aware of the time constraints of much student research and will therefore do our best to reply to applications as soon as possible to facilitate student access to the data. However, given current lead times we recommend that you apply to use the GUS data as soon as you think you might use it for a project.

Linked administrative data

We have collected consent from parents to link data collected from them and their children to administrative data held by health and education authorities.

GUS cohort members have been linked to their unique ‘Scottish Candidate Number’. Information about the schools they attended has also been captured. Using these details, information from the survey can be linked to individual and school level data in a number of Scottish educational administrative datasets. Further details of the types of education data which can be linked to can be accessed via the following page of the Scottish Government website:

Education data and linkage keys are held by Scottish Government. If you would like to use linked educational data, an application should be made to the Statistics Public Benefit and Privacy Panel. Further information can be found on this webpage -

Cohort members and their biological mothers have also been linked to their Community Health Index (CHI) number. This is a unique identifier which identifies individuals across all Scottish health administrative datasets. A ‘minimum dataset’ was created for GUS analysis containing data from maternity, child health surveillance, dental health and hospital datasets. However, applications can be made to link the survey to a range of other health data. The health data is currently held by Public Health Scotland with access given via the electronic Data Research and Innovation Service (eDRIS). Further information is available from the following webpage:


Data from the Care Inspectorate from inspections of Early Learning and Childcare settings attended by cohort children are available via the UKDS:

In sweep 11, we will also be linking to the following datasets (young people are given the opportunity to object if they wish to do so):

  • SQA qualifications data
  • Skills Development Scotland data on  careers advice and guidance and post-school destinations

SQA hold information about the qualifications awarded to young people in Scotland. The addition of SQA data to GUS is being undertaken to assist the Scottish Ministers to fulfil their duties under the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014. In the event that the SQA is replaced before the linkage occurs, we will seek to link attainment data from any new or replacement organisation(s) who take over the ownership of the data. The details will be updated on the GUS website.

Skills Development Scotland are a public body who provide careers information, advice and guidance, and work-based training programmes. They hold information about what careers advice young people receive and what they go on to do when they leave school.

If you would like to access to other linked data, an application needs to be made via the Scottish Government Statistics Public Benefit and Privacy panel – see

If you have any enquiries about the data linkage, please email

Practical resources

Workshops have previously been held to promote and support the use of GUS data. Materials from the workshops are provided below.

Presentations from GUS conferences which provided overviews of the content of various sweeps are also included.

If you require any assistance in accessing or using GUS data, or if you have any questions or queries, please get in touch.

Study updates from GUS conferences

GUS Data Workshops 2014

GUS Data Workshops Winter 2011/2012

An introduction to GUS data from Years 1-5


Working with longitudinal data – an introduction Roxanne Connelly, University of Stirling

Using GUS data for academic research: experiences and challenges Dr Valeria Skafida, University of Edinburgh

Survey design and methodology: sampling, weighting and response Paul Bradshaw, ScotCen Social Research

Topics, themes and standard measures Judith Mabelis, ScotCen Social Research

Accessing GUS data and documentation Paul Bradshaw, ScotCen Social Research

A practical overview of the data Paul Bradshaw, ScotCen Social Research


Standard measures and key analysis variables

How to create and merge SPSS datasets

Data management in SPSS

Data management – additional tips

Coping with complex samples 1

Coping with complex samples 2

Practical Exercises

Practical Exercises – answers