Clause 76

– in a Public Bill Committee at 1:30 pm on 19th March 2009.

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Academy arrangements: information sharing

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools)

The growing use of information-sharing clauses under the Government is always a cause of anxiety. I understand the Government’s rationale. If they establish three or four quangos where there used to be just one, to avoid replicating the same information three or four times, they can pass a law that enables those quangos to send the data files that they hold to each other. The danger is not simply that those files could go missing in the post—I cannot believe that would ever happen—but that through the clauses, new data-sharing powers are swept in. Personal data collected for a narrow, specific purpose could be shared with other statutory bodies for whom they were not intended. In the clause, exam or internal test data from students at an academy, or confidential notes regarding conversations between a student and a teacher, could be given to the Secretary of State, the YPLA or

“any other person by or in respect of whom a relevant function is exercisable.”

That is clause 76(3)(d).

It would be helpful for the Committee, and in due course for the Information Commissioner, if the Minister would spell out what information he has in mind, and what are the limits to the type of information that he envisages being shared among the four categories in subparagraph (3).

There may be instances when it is necessary for information to be shared between parties in order to effect the new arrangements, and we will debate information sharing more widely when we reach clause 119, from memory. We can go into more detail then, if that is the Committee’s desire.

Clause 76 enables the information to be shared between the Secretary of State, the YPLA, the academy and other relevant parties, including, typically, the local authority. That information will be subject to guidance that the Department will issue. Such information sharing might include management information on the application and impact of specific policies—for example, exclusions or special educational needs—that the YPLA has referred to the Secretary of State. The information will be used to inform policy development.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools) 1:45 pm, 19th March 2009

Can I therefore be assured that that does not include any personal data relating to individuals?

Photo of Jim Knight Jim Knight Minister of State (Schools and Learners), Department for Children, Schools and Families, Minister of State (Department for Children, Schools and Families) (Schools and Learners)

I am happy to answer the hon. Gentleman. There may be circumstances in which, for example, an individual in an academy, rather than carry on from year 11 to the sixth form, might want to secure learning somewhere else, so information about them would best be supplied to the YPLA as part of the commissioning arrangements that it might require to secure the individual interests of that learner.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 76 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.