The State of Data 2020: Event

On Tuesday September 29 and Wednesday September 30, 2020 our first remote event brought together researchers, practitioners, and anyone with an interest in why data matters in state education in England. All the talks are now available open access from their links below.

The event accompanied the launch of our report The State of Data 2020: mapping the data landscape in England’s state education system.

There is a range of content and discussion for practitioners in education and data protection, senior leadership and DPOs, local authority staff, developers, vendors and the edTech community, academics and activists, policy advisors and politicians. We want to create opportunities for questions and answers across silos. We need to start a conversation about changing policy and practice when it comes to children’s data rights in education.

To be open to all, we welcomed donations, but the talks are free and open access. We are also grateful to the National Lottery Community Fund for support of the event.

Program agenda

DAY ONE Tuesday September 29, 2020

09:30 Welcome from defenddigitalme

Jen Persson, defenddigitalme

10:00 2020 Vision: Algorithms in Exams, Education, and other Public Services Panel discussion

Panel Moderator: Jen Persson, defenddigitalme


Martha Dark, Foxglove Legal

Curtis Parfitt-Ford, A-level Student

Jhanelle White, University Student

10:45 Datafied Public Services: Politics and policy (and algorithms)

Joanna Redden, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Information and Media Studies, Western University

11:10 Views from a young developer

Andreea Giurgiu Teens-In-AI developer

11:30 Youth Questions for Policy Makers

The Warren Youth Group | Voices from Hull and Helsinki

11:45 Children’s Data and Privacy Online

Sonia Livingstone, Professor, Department of Media and Communications, LSE

12:15 Our life online and online privacy

The Warren Youth Group | panel

BREAK 13:00—14:00

14:00 Tik Tok, Shadow Banning, and Disability: the issues with social media, data, and online safety

Elizabeth Wright, speaker, writer, disability activist and consultant, and a Paralympic Medalist

14:30 Exclusions in education: more than the data

Nadine Bernard, Headteacher

15:00 Critical issues and new directions in big data and AI in education

Ben Williamson, Chancellor’s Fellow in the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh

15:30 On AI, Algorithms and Analytics in Public Services | Panel discussion

Panel Moderator: Ivana Bartoletti, Women Leading in AI network co-founder


Godfred Boahen Policy Officer at the British Association of Social Workers (From Sept 2020 National Safeguarding Policy and Development Lead at the Church of England)

Joanna Redden, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Information and Media Studies, Western University

DAY TWO Wednesday September 30, 2020

09:30 Where do your school records go?

Introduction and short animation, defenddigitalme

09:45 A rapid response in the COVID-19 crisis

Neil Selwyn, Distinguished Research Professor in the Faculty of Education, Monash University

10:10 A digital future for further education and skills

Bob Harrison

10:30 Safeguarding in schools Q&A panel

Panel Moderator: Ann Marie Christian, Safeguarding in schools expert


Ailidh Callander, Legal Officer

Georg Ell, CEO Smoothwall

Leo Ratledge, Policy and Legal Officer at CRIN (Child Rights International Network)

11:15 Life through a Lens

Emmeline Taylor, Associate Professor in Criminology at City, University of London

11:55 Analysing the past, present and future uses of biometric technology in the education sector

Pippa King, founder, Biometrics-in-Schools

13:15 edTech Movers and Shakers: a look behind the big business of edTech

Ed Tranham, founder and editor of The Assignment Report, a leading source of education industry news

13:40 Bukky Yusuf, Teacher and ambassador for Leadership Matters and co-chair of the Department for Education’s EdTech Leadership Group. (Presenting in a personal capacity).

14:05 Playful dataveillance: Unpacking Google’s Edtech strategy through the Pioneer project

Zoetanya Sujon, Programme Director, Communications and Media programme at LCC, University of the Arts London

14:30 Enforcement in education: The state of GDPR across the EU so far

Nani Jansen Reventlow, Director of the Digital Freedom Fund, Lecturer in Law at Columbia Law School and Adjunct Professor at Oxford University Blavatnik School of Government

15:00 Highlights from the State of Data 2020 report

Jen Persson, defenddigitalme


Between algorithmic fairness in exam moderation and the rush to remote learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 has raised questions on children’s digital rights like never before in England’s education system. defenddigitalme is a call to action.

We have a vision of a rights’ respecting environment in the state education sector in England. We want to help build the future of safe, fair and transparent use of data across the public sector. This event will coincide with the launch of our report The State of Data 2020: mapping the data landscape in England’s state education system. We ask questions and aim to build better than today in policy and practice.