Open letter to the Editor, published in The Observer 24.12.2017
National Pupil Database / December 24, 2017
As published in an open letter in The Observer on December 24, 2017. The Observer also wrote an article to accompany the letter: Plan to collect data on excluded pupils could put them at ‘lifelong risk’ of stigma.
We write to warn that a new data collection will put school children in England at lifelong risk from January. The government must pause, rethink, and put children’s best interests first.
The Department for Education will collect reasons why children move from mainstream school into alternative provision education. Those sensitive reasons include a mental or physical health need, pregnancy, and whether a child moved to a young offender institution.
These labels will be added to a child’s named record in the National Pupil Database, which now holds the personal confidential data of over 23 million people without their knowledge or consent.
Data released to more than 1,000 third parties since March 2012 have not been anonymous, but identifying, and already include details of special educational needs when given away, even for commercial re-use.
New data protection law is in Parliament, and while the government talk about giving children’s personal data special protections, and privacy by design, their actions do not. We must see safeguards put in place to uphold children’s rights, aligned with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and our Human Rights Act.
We appreciate the importance of understanding these children’s education, often “managed out” from mainstream school to boost league table results. But this knowledge should not cost any child their confidentiality.
If the Department cannot stop the distribution of identifying data for indirect purposes, and commit to the rights of the child, the government should not collect the data at all.
Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE)
Biometrics in Schools
The Campaign for State Education (CASE)
John Carr OBE, Secretary, Children’s Charities’ Coalition on Internet Safety (CHIS)
Driver Youth Trust
Dr Pam Jarvis, Chartered Psychologist, social media researcher, teacher and grandparent
Dr. Ansgar Koene, Senior Research Fellow, University of Nottingham
Professor Sonia Livingstone OBE, London School of Economics and Political Science
Professor Berry Mayall, Professor of Childhood Studies, UCL
Royal Mencap Society
The National Education Union (NUT section)
The Parents Union
Rescue Our Schools
Joseph Savirimuthu, Senior Lecturer in Law at the School of Law and Social Justice, University of Liverpool
Teenage Pregnancy Knowledge Exchange