Back in September the Guardian reported that parents were refusing to provide details of their children’s nationality.
Today the Independent is reporting that Department for Education officials confirmed the government had no plans to retract the census, and would continue to collect nationality and birth-place data – a move campaigners said was “deeply disappointing”.
In an open letter to MPs, Schools Against Borders for Children – a coalition of parents, teachers, schools and campaigners, have urged parents to boycott the next school census for fear information could be used for third party purposes, including immigration enforcement.
Speaking in the House of Lords earlier this month, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Lord Storey said the new legislation was rushed through without scrutiny during the summer recess, and littered with flaws.
He said: “I am afraid that this proposal has all the hallmarks of racism, particularly as language codes are already recorded for pupils with English as an additional language, as are codes on their ethnic background.”
A DfE spokesperson said: “Gathering data on pupils’ country of birth, nationality and English proficiency as part of the National School Census will be used to help us better understand how children with, for example, English as an additional language perform in terms of their broader education, and to assess and monitor the scale and impact immigration may be having on the schools sector.
“However, our guidance is clear that there is no requirement for headteachers to ascribe nationality or ethnicity to their pupils. A pupil’s background is personal to them, and if a parent or guardian does not wish to provide this information, schools should record ‘refused’ on their systems.”
Do you think the DfE has valid reason to gather data on children’s backgrounds or do you think this data is ‘racist’? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter. ~ Sophie
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