NCDS Age 7 Sweep

Sweep details

Dates 1965
Age 7
Achieved sample 15,425 (cohort members)
Respondents Cohort members, parents, teachers, medical examination
Survey mode Face to face
Data access

Main dataset available via the UK Data Service [SN 5565]. Visit the UK Data Service website to access the data.


The Age 7 sweep took place during 1965 and aimed to measure the educational, social and physical development of the cohort.

Nearly 300 new participants, who had been born overseas, joined the study after moving to Great Britain.

Health visitors visited the homes of cohort members and conducted interviews with parents (mothers in most cases). Information was collected about household composition, housing, parental occupation, cohort member health, parental health, schooling and parental aspirations for their children’s future.

The Age 7 sweep involved a number of cognitive assessments. Information was also collected from schools about type of school, class sizes, approaches to discipline, attendance, behaviour and ability.

The sweep also included a medical examination where height, weight,  vision, hearing, speech, and motor coordination were measured and any other medical issues noted.

Special features at age 7

Schools questionnaire

An important aspect of the age 7 sweep was the schools questionnaire in which the child’s teacher and head teacher provided information about the study children themselves and the schools they attended.

Similar questionnaires were administered subsequently in the age 11 and 16 sweeps. The information about the schools collected in these questionnaires has been used extensively to study the impact of different types of schooling (pupil-teacher ratios,  single-sex vs mixed, private vs non-private etc) on later life achievements.


NCDS began measuring cognition at age 7. Cognitive assessments were subsequently included at 11, 16, and 50.

The results of these assessments form a rich resource for the study of the factors associated with levels of cognition and the impact of cognition on other domains of life.

The cognitive assessments included:

  • Southgate Reading Test – a test of word recognition and comprehension particularly suited to identifying backward readers.
  • Copying Designs Test – to obtain some assessment of the child’s perceptuo-motor ability.
  • Drawing-A-Man Test – as an indication of the child’s general mental and perceptual ability.
  • Problem Arithmetic Test.

Child behaviour

Measures of child behaviour were included for the first time at age 7 and then subsequently at 11 and 16.

At ages 7 and 11, the ‘Rutter behaviour scale’ was answered by mothers, whilst teachers completed the Bristol Social Adjustment Guide (BSAG). At age 16, parents and teachers both completed the Rutter scale.

These standardised instruments allow researchers to track behavioural issues throughout childhood and to examine the long-lasting impacts that behavioural difficulties in childhood may have on later life.

Objective health measures

The first medical assessment took place at age 7 which involved measuring height, weight, vision, hearing, speech, and motor coordination.

Further objective measures of health were taken during the biomedical sweep at 44/45, and all adult sweeps have collected detailed self-reported information on multiple aspects of health.

This rich data allows researchers to study trajectories of health from childhood into adulthood and how these are affected by other circumstances and behaviours throughout life.


  • User guides
  • Questionnaires
  • Technical reports
  • Data notes
  • Additional
User guides

Handling missing data in the National Child Development Study – User Guide

This user guide aims to describe and illustrate a straightforward approach to missing data handling, while detailing some more general considerations around missing data along the way.

Date published: 12/07/2021
PDF: 657,33 KB


NCDS Age 7 Guide to the Dataset

Guide to the NCDS Age 7 dataset

Date published: 01/05/1965
PDF: 13,94 MB


NCDS 2006 Re-deposit User Guide

User guide to accompany the redeposit of data up to age 46

Date published: 01/11/2006
PDF: 87,19 KB


NCDS Age 7-16 Measures of Ability

This document draws together information available on the key measures of ability that were gathered from members of the National Child Development Study (NCDS) during the three surveys carried out during the school years of the birth cohort.

Date published: 01/12/2012
PDF: 355,53 KB


NCDS Birth-Age 55 Response and Deaths Dataset User Guide

This document accompanies the deposit of the NCDS Response and Deaths dataset at the UK Data Service in March 2015.

Date published: 01/03/2015
PDF: 647,55 KB


NCDS Age 7-11 Bristol Social Adjustment Guides

This document draws together information available on the Bristol Social Adjustment Guides (BSAG) – key measures of behaviour that were gathered for members of the National Child Development Study.

Date published: 01/01/2013
PDF: 1,18 MB


NCDS revised region variables

Date published: 01/03/2012
PDF: 523,56 KB


NCDS Age 7 Parental Questionnaire

Parent Questionnaire for NCDS sweep 1 conducted at age 7

Date published: 01/05/1965
PDF: 3,69 MB

Technical reports

No material of this type is available.

Data notes

NCDS Age 7-11 Notes on the Bristol Social Adjustment Guide

The BSAG was used in sweeps 1 and 2 of NCDS

Date published: 01/05/2000
PDF: 42,29 KB


Deriving highest qualification in NCDS and BCS70

This Data Note explains the derivation of variables on Highest Educational Qualification obtained by cohort members in the National Child Development Study (NCDS) and the 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70).

Date published: 01/01/2011
PDF: 514,11 KB


NCDS Birth-Age 50 Target and Achieved Samples

Table of target and actual sweep samples for NCDS up to age 50

Date published: 01/05/2008
PDF: 21,84 KB


NCDS Age 7 Coding Frame

Coding frame for the age 7 sweep of NCDS

Date published: 01/05/1968
PDF: 14,16 MB


NCDS Age 7 Codebook

Codebook for NCDS age 7 sweep

Date published: 01/05/1968
PDF: 10,91 MB


NCDS Ethical Review and Consent

Review of the ethical practices throughout NCDS

Date published: 02/06/2014
PDF: 1,76 MB

Contact us

Centre for Longitudinal Studies
UCL Social Research Institute

20 Bedford Way
London WC1H 0AL