Pupils: Personal Records

Department for Education written question – answered on 20th January 2017.

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Photo of Lord Ouseley Lord Ouseley Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether schools are required to collect personal data about schoolchildren and to pass these on to the Home Office, either directly or through the Department for Education; and if so, for what purposes such data are collected and transferred.

Photo of Lord Nash Lord Nash The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The school an individual child attends will hold information about that child which will be used by the school to help ensure the child receives the best possible education. Every term the school is required, by law, to send some of this data to the Department for Education (DfE) via the school census.

The majority of school census data is stored securely within the National Pupil Database to provide a clear picture of how the school system is working, at local and national level. It helps us to make sure we are allocating funds where they are needed and that no groups of children are missing out on the education they deserve. We take privacy extremely seriously and access to sensitive data held within the National Pupil database is strictly controlled.

As has always been the case, where the police or Home Office have clear evidence that a child may be at risk or there is evidence of criminal activity, including illegal immigration, limited data including a pupil’s address and school details may be requested from the National Pupil Database. It is right that we share this data if it helps to keep a child safe from harm or to prevent a crime. This does not, however, include the nationality, country of birth and proficiency in English information recently introduced into school census which is collected solely for DfE analysts to use for research.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the DfE and the Home Office sets out how this process works and the data which is shared. A copy of the MoU between the Home Office and the DfE, which covers the sharing of limited information between those parties, is available in the house library.

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