Pupils could be ‘labelled for life’ in data collection plan

Sky News reports that campaigners are urging the Government to pause a new collection of pupil data amid fears it will put sensitive information about vulnerable children at risk.

From 18 January, local authorities will record information on the reasons children are transferred from mainstream education – information including mental health issues, pregnancy and youth offences.

The data, which can be recorded without the consent of parents, will be connected to the child’s name and stored in the national pupil database, where it will never be deleted.

In a letter to the Education Secretary, 20 organisations including Mencap – a UK charity for people with a learning disability – and the National Education Union say the measures, carried out in the alternative provision census, mean pupils risk being “labelled for life”.

“The use of these data, often profiling children over their lifetime, will potentially discriminate against them when data are used across Government, when used for direct interventions, and by external third parties, including the police,” the groups wrote.

According to research by campaigning organisation DefendDigitalMe, more 1,000 third party requests for the use of pupil records have been made since March 2012.

Groups accessing the data include the National Citizen Service, Department for Work and Pensions and private tutoring companies, as well as journalists and universities.

Read more Pupils could be ‘labelled for life’ in data collection plan

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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  1. John Freeman

    On this occasion the DfE is right – there are secure safeguards on personal data and I don’t believe that anyone can now or could in the future get hold of individual pupil records from the National Pupil Database. Try it and see – the safeguards are already there. And on the ‘why’, we know, anecdotally, that too many children are being excluded from mainstream education – sometimes unlawfully. But the only way to know what is really going on is to collect the data – no data, no knowledge, no accountability. The proof of the pudding will be be in what the DfE publishes from the new data collections, of course.

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