News / legislation National Pupil Database pupil privacy

Letter to schools: Take action today on School Census nationality data

Dear Head, Dear School Census Administrator,
May 18th, is the summer school census on-roll day. We hope that you will take action to safeguard your children from the unknown uses of the new data collected this year 2016/17:

  • nationality
  • country of birth

These data are optional and are NOT used for funding. You have a legal duty to inform parents and pupils what their personal data may be used for, and to ask for the data. However, no one is required to supply it. If your school has already entered data collected during the Admissions process, but not told parents that the data are now going to be used at national level and what for, you could be exposed to legal challenge.
The information can be retracted now. These data are entirely OPTIONAL. Please act today to retract data already provided by using REFUSED in both fields. Ministers have given assurances that using “refused” now, overwrites data that was sent before. Schools will face no sanction for doing so. “Not Yet Obtained” is also another valid alternative where applicable.
We want to make sure every school gives parents and pupils the choice whether to provide these two pieces of data, as parents/pupils are legally entitled to do so, and school is obliged to offer that choice. These data are not compulsory, but optional, and can be retracted, but that message from the Department for Education has not got through to all schools. (See p61 in official DfE guidance.) The data will be collected again every term in the school census, so there is plenty of opportunity to get the process right if parents / pupils want to provide it.
With support from over 20 human rights organisations and the NUT, we call for your action in opposing Home Office use of pupil data. The intent of this collection is a Border Force, not DfE policy and was put in place as a compromise rather than requiring every school to collect passport data on every child. Every month since July 2015, up to 1,500 children’s data (names, DOB, home and school addresses) are being exchanged between the DfE National Pupil Database and the Home Office “Removals Casework Team” explicitly for immigration enforcement purposes.
Join teachers from across England to oppose this divisive data collection, and maintain public trust in what children’s school census data should be used for. We hope together to #BoycottSchoolCensus nationality data in the summer school census before the submission deadline of June 14.
What society lets families fear deportation for sending children to school?
For ten easy steps to take, please see our website. For more background information see:

Your public and professional trust matters to us. As does children’s data privacy, and protection. Please feel free to contact us by phone or email, if you have questions or concerns; or want to help our campaign.
Please share this with fellow Heads, governors and staff and ensure you tell your parents and pupils of their rights to refuse, retract and resist this nationality data collection.
Jen Persson,
Against Borders for Children campaign supporter

18/05 14:00 post updated to add note on ‘not yet obtained’ following questions from schools today.