News / National Pupil Database pupil privacy

Ten steps for schools why and how to refuse nationality in school census

There is less than one week left for parents and schools to retract pupils’ nationality and country of birth data before the national summer school census on May 18, as offered in the latest Department for Education census guidance. Act now to retract nationality data already submitted to DfE.

It is optional and not required. Parents can retract data already submitted.

Lord Nash, November 24, 2016: “If parents have previously provided this information to schools and now wish to retract it, they should inform the school of this decision. For such cases, schools can update their systems to show a parent has refused to provide the information and this will be collected within the next school census.[..]”
School census guidance v1.6 (5.3 page 61)

“Parental right to refuse to provide certain characteristics information and to retract previously provided information on nationality and country of birth Whilst it is not possible for a parent / guardian or an individual child to opt out of the school census collection, there is certain information (such as ethnicity, language, country of birth, nationality and whether a child is the child of someone in the armed services) which must always be reported as declared […] When collecting this information from the parent / guardian or pupil it is important that schools make them aware of their right to refuse to provide these data items and, where they exercise this right, the information is returned in the census as ‘refused.”

For background detail follow the links in red.

  1. Schools are legally responsible for fair processing – telling pupils, parents, staff and school governors what is done with any personal data that the school collects, retains, or passes on to third parties.
  2. In secret, every month since July 2015, The Department for Education (DfE) has been passing up to 1,500 pupils’ personal data collected in the school census, to the Home Office for immigration enforcement.
  3. Data passed between the Departments includes pupils’ full names, DOB, home and school addresses from the last 5 years of their records.
  4. Nationality data “once collected” newly in the 2016-17 school census was also  going to be passed to the Border Force Casework Removals Team. The agreement in place since December 2015  was amended to take this out in October 2016, only after questions and pressure from over 20 organisations, but the transfers continue. It is a Home Office not DfE policy, reached in a compromise to “fend off” more stringent immigration checks in schools.
  5. The Department for Education does not mention this at all in new guidance sent to schools. They omit the existing data sharing, the purposes of which include creating “a hostile environment”. We still have deep concerns that these new information may be used by the Border Force, even if they say the nationality data itself is not being exchanged for now. And there is no guarantee it won’t be in future.
  6. The National Union of Teachers has called for this use of pupil data to end, emphasising that “schools are not part of policing immigration” and NALDIC, the national subject association for English as an Additional Language, has asked the DfE to ‘reconsider its position urgently’.
  7. Submitting these data are optional for parents/pupils, and it does not affect school funding. The Department for Education told schools in emails and revised guidance of January 10, 2017, that these data can be deleted in the summer census. Schools can overwrite past data submitted by using ‘refused’.
  8. Schools must tell every pupil and parent they can withdraw data, and how to do so. [Tip for schools: just submit refused in the nationality and cob fields]
  9. We’ve created template text to download to help you. If you want a letter you can download this template. For multi-language resources see the Against Borders for Children website including template letters. The #BoycottSchoolCensus campaign calls for everyone to refuse the collection of nationality and country-of-birth data, to protect all children, and their human right to education.
  10. What can you do? Talk to fellow staff and school governors. Inform parents and pupils of their right to refuse, and retract data already submitted. Pay attention to what you ask for in Admissions data and how you tell parents it will be used. Pay attention that data collected years ago in Admissions is not now being submitted without informing parents of a changed purpose. (National vs local use.) Identifying pupil data is also passed out by the DfE to commercial businesses and to journalists. Write to your MP to ask for the end of these misuses of public data and professional trust.

Remember these data are a choice, it is optional, and parents and pupils have the right to refuse. Meanwhile, monthly transfers to the Home Office of up to 1,500 children’s names, home and school address, continue.

Take action before summer census on roll day, May 18, 2017. Refuse. Retract. Resist.

For more information:

Multi language resources and templates see:

See: School Census Timeline and Full Facts

Download DfE latest official school census guidance:

Tweet: #BoycottSchoolCensus @Schools_ABC  and  #pupildata @defenddigitalme

Make all pupil data fair, safe, and transparent.

Source: The Hostile Environment: turning the UK into a nation of border cops a Report by Corporate watch [download]  April 2017