News / National Pupil Database

Message for Autumn school census on October 5, 2017

Dear Head, Dear School Census Administrator, Dear Teachers
this Thursday 5 October is the autumn 2017-18 school census on-roll day. We hope that you will object to all use of pupil data in immigration enforcement and take action to safeguard your children from the unknown uses of the new data collected originally intended for Home Office purposes:

  • 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 but, no one is required to supply it. The field cannot be blank, but refused is fine.
Every school must give 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. (See p67-68 in official DfE guidance 2017-18.)
The Information Commissioner recently intervened to ensure the DfE guidance was updated to tell schools to make parents and pupils clear on their rights.


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 must tell them and offer a right to retract. The information can be withdrawn now by using refused in the fields.
Ministers have given assurances that using “refused” now, overwrites data that was sent before and that schools will face no sanction for doing so.
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 the #BoycottSchoolCensus of nationality data in the autumn school census once again sends a clear message to the Department for Education that use of pupil data in immigration enforcement has no place in schools. What society lets families fear deportation for sending children to school?
In general, data collected in the school census are given to third parties including to third parties, including commercial businesses, Fleet Street and television journalists, and charities. There should be much more transparency to schools how data are used.
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 the nationality data collection for this census October 5. They will not have another opportunity to do so until the next census date on January 18, 2018. Follow #BoycottSchoolCensus on social media for updates.
Jen Persson,
Against Borders for Children campaign supporter