Data must not be collected in the autumn school census
National Pupil Database pupil privacy School census / September 22, 2018
What’s the story?
Nationality and country-of-birth data must no longer be collected for national school census purposes. Schools must not ask for the data and must not include it in the autumn school census on October 4. See the official School Census guidance [paragraphs 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168.] You can read more about why on our school census nationality data timeline.
Monthly national pupil data handovers continue for immigration enforcement purposes. The National Union of Teachers has called for this use of pupil data to end, emphasising that “schools are not part of policing immigration.”
But the government plans to continue the use of national pupil data for immigration enforcement purposes through a new exemption in the Data Protection Act introduced in May 2018. There are no safeguards in place how the data will be used in future for operational or research uses.
What can you do?
Click here to download a sample template letter [.pdf]
Take action: click on the link to download and print off a copy, edit and fill in your details and the details of your children (i.e. older children can choose to object to processing for themselves and schools should not be asking pupils to provide data in school without parental involvement). Sign and date it, and send it to your school.
Sample suggested text to copy and edit
Request to remove school census data and object to processing:country of birth, nationality, language proficiency and first language
[Amend and delete as appropriate] Date: ____________________
I am / I am the [parent/legal guardian/carer of] ______________________________________
in _______________________________________________ class,
I ask to retract personal data collected for submission in the school census and to end further processing.
Please retract these data items which must no longer be collected.
___ language proficiency
For your further information, please refer to the latest school census guidance from the Department for Education published June 28, 2018 page 13, 22.214.171.124.
In addition, please remove these data which are optional and can be refused. For further information, please refer to the latest school census guidance from the Department for Education published June 28, 2018 page 60, 5.3.2 and 5.3.3.
___ first language
Under Article 21 of the General Data Protection Regulation, and UK Data Protection Act 2018, I object to continued and further processing.
Data must only be submitted for educational purposes as required under s537a of the Education Act 1996. In July 2016 in a written parliamentary question,  the Schools Minister said of nationality and country-of-birth that, “The data will be collected solely for internal Departmental use for the analytical, statistical and research purposes … There are currently no plans to share the data with other government Departments”. But the live data sharing agreement already included “nationality (once collected)” in the information to be transferred between the Home Office and DfE for purposes including the strategic aims of the Hostile Environment.  Monthly handovers of data from the Department for Education to the Home Office continue. The government plans to expand the use of national pupil data for immigration enforcement purposes through a new exemption in the Data Protection Act introduced in May 2018.  Further, any national research using the data collected is not meaningful, since no recorded nationality was submitted for 25.6% of pupils.  There are no safeguards in place how the data will be used in future for operational or research uses.
Please ensure these data are also deleted from where you may have processed them further, and passed on, for example to the Local Authority, DfE or other third parties. Please reply to this letter to confirm that my request has been processed accordingly.
Thank you for your support.
Name [print] ____________________________________
Signature ____________________________________ Date ________________
 Census guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-census-2018-to-2019-guide-for-schools-and-las
 Parliamentary question 42842 https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2016-07-15/42942/
 Data sharing agreement with reference to paragraphs 15.1.2 and para 15.2 .6 https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/377285/response/941438/attach/4/20151218%20DfE%20HO%20Final%20V0%201%20REDACTED.PDF.pdf
 March 13, Col 72 https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2018-03-13/debates/0714412b-9b1d-4c1c-b0c5-c6aee4c48612/DataProtectionBill(Lords)(SecondSitting)#contribution-8D39BA9F-68A6-4F4E-BBA7-B526CDE1FACF
 December 2017 statistics on nationality and country-of-birth in the school census https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/665127/Data_on_pupil_nationality__country_of_birth_and_proficiency.pdf
Resources from the Office of the Information Commissioner can be found [here] online.
What’s this all about?
Letters leaked to the BBC reveal the purposes for which the expansion of the school census of country-of-birth and nationality and language detail are not simply what has been stated, but rather the collection was arranged as a compromise, and part of a package of measures at the request of the Home Office and Cabinet Office.
It was agreed after the Immigration Taskforce discussions in July 2015, that the “Department will gather pupil-level data on children’s country of birth, nationality and English proficiency through the school census from 2017.”
Since July 2015, over 2,500 requests have been made by the Home Office of the NPD at the DfE, on a monthly basis, in which the Home Office presents lists of names to the DfE, which then returns school and home address data about individuals, their date of birth and gender. As of Sept 2016, 520 of 2,462 requests had returned matched data.
The Memorandum of Understanding first made public on December 15th 2016, and related information via FOI, revealed in Schools Week show the intent was to give pupil nationality data to the Home Office. This changed on Oct 7, 2016 (the day after the first collection of the new data) after campaign pressure from over 20 rights organisations and public scrutiny. Its purpose was in part to create a hostile environment [p14] and immigration enforcement. The previous agreement “did state that DfE would provide nationality information to the Home Office”, but that this was changed “following discussions” between the two departments.
We still have deep concerns that the country-of-birth and nationality data are not being used for educational reasons at all, but may be accessed and used by DfE algorithms for this bulk data analysis for immigration control purposes. While the DfE says these data will “not be passed to the Home Office” they will not confirm that the data will not be used for these purposes, or used in bulk within the Department for Education, to provide the matched data to the Home Office as a result. There are no safeguards in place for its oversight or guarantees over future use.
The House of Lords agreed a regret motion on the expansion of the collection of pupil data: that this House regrets that information about pupils’ nationality and country of birth collected under the Education (Pupil Information) (England) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2016 (Statutory Instrument 2016/808) could be used to help determine a child’s immigration status.
We believe that all the data should be under the protection of safe setting management and parents asked for consent for commercial and other third party data sharing. We believe the entire census collection process needs review.
Collective action continues.