Accessing GUS 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 here 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

Using GUS data? Please let us know!

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 1-9 (2005-2016), BC2 sweeps 1-3 and a Teacher dataset for BC1 (conducted at the same time as Sweep 8) 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.

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