To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether her Department consulted (a) schools and (b) parents on the new requirement to collect country of birth data in the 2016-17 school census; how parents are informed of their right to opt out of providing that information; for what purpose that information will be used; whether that information will be shared with other Government departments; and if she will make a statement.
The collection of data on the country of birth and nationality of pupils will be used to improve our understanding of the scale and impact of pupil migration on the education sector and provide the Department with a better evidence base for future policy decision making. These new data items will provide valuable statistical information on the characteristics of these groups of children, along with their attainment and destinations, and allow the Department to measure whether the individual pupils, or the schools they attend, face additional educational challenges.
The data will be collected solely for the Department’s internal use for the analytical, statistical and research purposes described above. There are currently no plans to share the data with other government departments unless we are legally required to do so.
All Departmental proposals for new, or revised, data collections are reviewed by the Star Chamber Scrutiny Board (SCSB). The SCSB is an external panel of representatives from schools and local authorities who approved the collection of country of birth data via the school census in November 2015.
The Department have not consulted directly with parents regarding the changes to the school census. As we do not have a means of directly communicating with individual parents ourselves, the Department provides a privacy notice template for schools to use to explain to parents what personal data they collect, why it is collected, who it is shared with and what it is used for. As data controllers in their own right, we do not advise schools directly on their collecting and processing of personal data or regulate their compliance with the Data Protection Act but the template we provide to schools gives parents access to further information about the Department’s use of their children’s data.