Next Steps is a longitudinal cohort study, following a nationally representative group of nearly 16,000 people born in 1989-90 who attended secondary school in England.
The study began in 2004 when cohort members were 14 years old when it was known as the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England (LSYPE). It was originally managed by the Department for Education, with sweeps every year for the first seven years, from ages 14 to 20. It was designed to study young people’s experiences through secondary school, and on to further education, training or the workplace.
Next Steps is now based at the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS) and has become a multidisciplinary study providing invaluable insights into the different aspects of the lives of millennials. The most recent full sweep took place in 2015 when cohort members were 25 years old. Almost 8,000 cohort members took part.
In 2020, cohort members took part in a special online COVID-19 survey, along with participants in four other longitudinal studies, to gather information about the effects of the pandemic on their lives.
An Age 31 Sweep, in 2021, is currently being planned.
Next Steps data have been collected through mixed mode (web, telephone and face to face) and cover many topics, including:
- employment and economic circumstances,
- social participation and identity,
- mental health and wellbeing,
- physical health and health behaviours,
- family life, and use of technology.
Individual-level administrative data have been linked to cohort members’ study records, supplementing the information collected through the study sweeps. So far this includes education data from schools and further education. Future plans include linking further and higher education, health, economic, and criminal records data to the study data.
Evidence from Next Steps has had a major influence on national education policy and has informed debate on a wide range of other important social issues, including the effects of zero hours contracts and bullying.
The Next Steps sample consists of around 16,000 people in England born in 1989-90. The target population for the study was young people who were in Year 9 in English state and independent schools and pupil referral units in February 2004. Cohort members were born between 1 September 1989 and 31 August 1990.
The study includes over-samples of cohort members from deprived schools and from minority ethnic groups, allowing researchers to examine patterns within and between these subgroups.
Information from the National Pupil Database and from Individualised Learner Records has been linked to the Next Steps data. These linked education data include GCSE results and A level results as well as other related information.
Management and funding
Accessing the data
The majority of Next Steps survey data can be accessed by bona fide researchers through the UK Data Service at the University of Essex. Anyone wishing to access the data will need to register with the UK Data Service before downloading. Some datasets are only available via Special Licence, or via the UK Data Service Secure Lab. Access arrangements comply with ESRC Research Data Policy.
Next Steps Age 25 briefing papers
Findings from the Next Steps Age 25 survey are available on the CLS website.