News / National Pupil Database

SATs are not just like going for a health check, Minister.

These are tests of our education system, not our children,” wrote the Secretary of State for Education in the Sunday Telegraph on 21 April.

He compared SATs with going for a health check. But he omitted an important difference. Our NHS offers an opt out of the commercial reuse of our medical records. Education does not.

His Department collects named data from every state school child in England, every year, multiple times. Attainment comes from Early Years, Phonics, and each Key Stage at age 7, 11 and 16. An additional Baseline test and Multiplications Check both lie ahead.

Altogether the National Pupil Database already holds the personal details of more than 23 million people.

Scores go into a child’s lifetime record, and out again to third-parties. Over 1,300 requests were approved since 2012 for millions of identifying confidential records. Nearly half went to companies, many using the free data to create predictive profiles and analytics to sell back to schools. Researchers, charities, think tanks and media requests make up the rest.

These data include the distribution of identifying and sensitive health data about children’s special educational needs.

The Department says it does not know historically whose records have gone where. Despite a new process put in place in 2018 to reduce the risks this distribution poses, personal data are still sent to companies. There is no national ethics’ or research oversight. No meaningful communication to families. No fair processing plan for meeting data protection requirements for data held on the national pupil database that relates to former pupils with whom schools have no contact. Growing high risk uses at regional levels. And there’s no consent.

Tests to measure a system should respect children’s right to confidentiality. Far from being like a health check, perhaps they should carry a government warning: these tests may seriously damage your child’s future.

To find out what’s in your records go to and follow the free, easy steps.