Next Steps

Next Steps, previously known as the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England (LSYPE), follows the lives of around 16,000 people in England born in 1989-90.

The study began in 2004 when the cohort members were aged 14, with an original sample of 15,770 people. Cohort members were surveyed annually until 2010, and the next sweep after this was when they were aged 25, in 2015-16.

What’s in the study?

Next Steps has collected information about cohort members’ education and employment, economic circumstances, family life, physical and emotional health and wellbeing, social participation and attitudes.

The Next Steps data has also been linked to National Pupil Database (NPD) records, which include the cohort members’ individual scores at Key Stage 2, 3 and 4 and more administrative linkages are planned (for example: Higher Education Statistics Agency, The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, Department for Work and Pensions).

What has the study found?

Next Steps has provided important evidence about the factors that influence young people’s performance at school and their educational transitions, and about the lives of young adults in their twenties. It has had a major impact on education policy, including raising the compulsory participation age in education and training, investing in vocational education and developing guidance for schools on how to stop bullying.

Research based on Next Steps has provided insight into bullying of disabled and sexual minority people and the role of subject choice and aspirations in educational trajectories.

The study has also contributed new evidence on the experiences in the labour market of young adults today, and in particular on the association between shift work and zero-hours contracts and mental health.

Who funds the study?

Next Steps is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. The study was previously managed and funded by the Department for Education (2004-12).

Next Steps sweeps

Next Steps cohort members have been surveyed eight times. The next sweep, the Age 32 Sweep, will get underway this year. The first seven sweeps were managed by the Department for Education. Click on a sweep below to learn more about the information collected.

COVID-19 survey and data

Data from all three waves of our survey of five national longitudinal cohort studies, including Next Steps, are now available. Find out about the topics covered, response and how to access the data.

Find out more

Latest from Next Steps


Getting started: An introduction to four British cohort studies

26 October 2021 This free webinar on 24 November will give first-time users an insight into four internationally-renowned cohort studies run by the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS). If you are a Masters or PhD student, or a researcher in academia or the third sector new to the birth cohorts, this event will give you an overview of what’s available and how to get started.

Linked data on student debt open up new research opportunities

20 October 2021 Researchers tracking the experiences of the millennial generation can now explore a wider range of questions related to the financial costs and benefits of attending university, thanks to newly linked admin and Next Steps survey data.

Over 9,000 Next Steps variables added to the CLOSER Discovery search engine

19 October 2021 Researchers can now search and explore a complete set of variable metadata from all sweeps of Next Steps, the only national longitudinal study tracking the lives of the millennial generation.

People with prior mental ill health hit harder by pandemic disruption

30 September 2021 A new study, based on longitudinal data, has found that people who had higher pre-pandemic levels of depression or anxiety have been more severely affected by disruption to jobs and healthcare during the pandemic.

Initial findings from the Age 25 Sweep

The most recent Next Steps survey took place when cohort members were 25. Our initial findings from the Age 25 Sweep cover a range of themes, from health to political perceptions.

Find out more about our initial findings

Recent scientific publications

Gutman, L and Schoon, I
Emotional engagement, educational aspirations, and their association during secondary school
Journal of Adolescence, 2018, Volume 67, Pages 109-119
Read the full paper
Thornby, M, Calderwood, L, Kotecha, M, Beninger, K and Gaia, A
Collecting Multiple Data Linkage Consents in a Mixed-mode Survey: Evidence from a large-scale longitudinal study in the UK
Survey Methods: Insights from the Field, 2018
Read the full paper

Special features of this study

Education data

The study was run by the Department for Education until 2013, and designed to examine key factors affecting educational progress, attainment and transitions following the end of compulsory education.

Cohort members were interviewed every year between ages 14 to 19 (2004-2010), providing detailed and frequent repeat measures on education during this crucial period. The questionnaires covered attitudes to school, aspirations for future work and study and transitions to college, university and work. Resident parents were also interviewed for the first four sweeps.

The questionnaire data was supplemented by linked administrative data from the National Pupil Database including cohort members’ individual scores at Key Stage 2, 3 and 4.

The Age 25 sweep maintained a strong focus on education with questions on qualifications, further study, university applications and experience, and student fees and debt. Permissions to link to a wide range of educational administrative data on further and higher education were also collected, including Individualised Learner Records, Higher Education Statistics Agency, University and Colleges Admissions Service and Student Loans Company.

Study design

Next Steps is a major national cohort study following a representative sample of people born in 1989-90.

A number of notable design features make it distinct from the other cohort studies run by CLS:

  • Cohort members were recruited in adolescence, at age 13/14, rather than at birth.
  • Data was collected annually for the first seven sweeps.
  • Cohort members were recruited through schools.

The geographical scope of the study is England, rather than the United Kingdom or Great Britain.

Administrative data linkage

At age 25, cohort members were asked for their permission to link data from an extensive range of administrative records to their survey information. Nine different consents were sought from four different domains – health, economic, education, and crime. Some of these data linkages are now in place and we are working towards the others.

Linked data currently available:


  • NHS Hospital Episode Statistics (up until 2017)


  • Data from Individualised Learner Records
  • Data from the National Pupil Database (NPD) for Key Stages 2, 3, 4 and 5 and school level data

Future data linkages:


  • NHS primary care data
  • NHS Hospital Episode Statistics data refresh (with COVID-related ICD-10 codes)


  • Higher Education Statistics Agency information on university participation and attainment
  • Universities and Colleges Admissions Service data, covering higher education applications and offers
  • Student Loans Company information, covering amount taken out in loans and institution attended


  • Department for Work and Pensions data on benefits and employment programs
  • HM Revenue & Customs data on employment, earnings, tax records, occupational pensions and National Insurance contributions

Cohort members who consented to economic linkages were also asked for their National Insurance number.


  • Ministry of Justice information held on the Police National Computer, covering arrests, cautions and sentences

Sample design

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 sample design considered schools the primary sampling unit, with deprived schools being over-sampled by 50 per cent. Of 892 selected schools, 647 state and independent secondary schools as well as pupil referral units participated in the study. Within selected schools, pupils from minority ethnic groups (Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Black African, Black Caribbean, and Mixed) were over-sampled to provide sufficient base sizes for analysis. The school and pupil selection approach ensured that, within a deprivation band and ethnic group, pupils had an equal probability of selection.

The issued sample for the Age 14 sweep was approximately 21,000 young people. A total of 15,770 households were interviewed in that initial sweep, representing 74 per cent of the target sample. For the Age 17 sweep, 352 Black Caribbean and Black African pupils, selected from the original schools sample, were added to the sample taking the total number of cohort members who had taken part in the study up to 16,122.

From ages 15-20, the target sample consisted of cohort members who had participated at the previous sweep. For the Age 25 sweep, the target sample was all cohort members who had ever taken part in the study.

Popular survey documentation

Next Steps Age 25 Questionnaire

This questionnaire was given to participants of the Next Steps Age 25 sweep.

Authors: Centre for Longitudinal Studies
Date published: 01/08/2017
PDF: 965,6 KB


Next Steps Age 25 User Guide

This user guide accompanies the Next Steps Age 25 sweep.

Authors: Centre for Longitudinal Studies
Date published: 01/01/2018


Data access

We’ve published guidance to help users find out what’s in our data.

Most Next Steps data are available through the UK Data Service. Visit the UK Data Service study page for Next Steps [SN 2000030].

Principal Investigator

Morag Henderson Associate Professor and Principal Investigator of Next Steps

Phone: 020 7911 5566

Dr Henderson’s main area of research is inequalities across the life course. More specifically she examines patterns in educational attainment, bullying and wellbeing.

Morag oversees all aspects of CLS’s work on Next Steps, and leads on the strategic and scientific direction of the study.

Contact us

Centre for Longitudinal Studies
UCL Social Research Institute

20 Bedford Way
London WC1H 0AL