Three strides towards transparency in the National Pupil Database
National Pupil Database pupil privacy / April 29, 2016
Three strides towards greater transparency were taken by the DfE this week, following The Director General for Regulation at the UK Statistics Authority [UKSA] letter to the Department for Education [Dfe], calling for the Department to improve transparency and data handling of the National Pupil Database. [Letter to us dated, April 22, 2016].
Now the question is, how will schools, parents and pupils be told?
The UK Statistics Authority had reviewed the DfE handling of the National Pupil Database and recommended:
1. more transparency through frequent and regular publication of the third parties who are getting given pupils’ personal data, and more detail on the reasons for its release and volume of data released (The total number of individual pupils in the NPD at 28/12/2015 was nearly 20 million, at 19,807,973. )
2. more transparent arrangements for ensuring the secure handling and end of project functions of NPD data such as data retention and destruction
The “DfE informed us that they are aware that they need to do more to improve the transparency around the use, and handling of the NPD data, and are committed to doing this. DfE also plan to improve the information that they send to schools so that schools in turn can provide parents and pupils improved information on how their children’s data will be shared with DfE and by DfE.”
Three releases this week of information move towards this, from the DfE:
1. An updated privacy notice template – the first change is the direct link to the third party release register now included towards the end of the privacy template page ” For information on which third party organisations (and for which project) pupil level data has been provided to, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-pupil-database-requests-received”.
We may dislike the form as such, and putting the onus on schools to inform parents of the DfE responsibilities is a less than ideal process, but it is what it is.
2. A new document including a flow chart showing the individual pupil releases of identifiable data and how data moves across the national education system has been written to make the processes more transparent.
3. What is to follow: The 3rd party release register, as it is out of date (only April 2012 to Dec 2014) needs to be updated with the 2015 recipients of identifiable data.
The DfE has published a forward looking set of dates for 2016 release register publications.
In the “Forthcoming Publications” section of this web page. From this it appears we should expect updates on May 6, July 14, and again in November 2016 which will cover third party requests up to end June 2016.
We hope this updated release register will include “more detail on the reasons for its release and volume of data released and more transparent arrangements for ensuring the secure handling and end of project functions of NPD data such as data retention and destruction”, as agreed by the DfE, detailed in the UKSA letter.
These are all very positive improvements towards greater transparency so pupils and parents can more easily see who is accessing their personal identifiable data.
But how and when this will be communicated to schools and how committed the DfE is to doing this in time for September 2016 intake and transfers will be the proof of the pudding.
Since the UK Statistics Authority had understood: “the DfE also plan to improve the information that they send to schools so that schools in turn can provide parents and pupils improved information on how their children’s data will be shared with DfE and by DfE.”
When will this be, and what will it look like?