Schools: Census

Department for Education written question – answered on 6th March 2017.

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Photo of Lord Scriven Lord Scriven Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Nash on 6 January (HL4240), why the communication on 10 January direct from the Department for Education to all state-funded school heads in England about the expanded school census collection did not mention the Home Office's access to pre-existing or new school census pupil data in national databases; and whether they have yet done so.

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

The autumn school census highlighted the need for clarification of how the new data items on nationality, country of birth and proficiency in English should be collected. The Department, therefore, updated the data collection guidance for schools in advance of the current school census that opened in January. The Department wrote to all head teachers on 10 January to highlight the updated guidance and request their support locally in improving the collection of sensitive data about pupils in the school census.

This communication did not specifically refer to data sharing with the Home Office because this sharing does not include the data relating to the nationality, country of birth and proficiency in English of pupils to which the communication referred. These new data items are collected solely for DfE analysts to use internally for educational research and have not, and will not, be shared by the Department with other government departments.

With regards to data sharing with the Home Office, a copy of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Home Office and the Department for Education, which covers the sharing of limited information between those parties, is available in the house library. This MOU sets out publicly how this process works and the data which is shared. As stated above this does not, and will not, include the new data on nationality, country of birth and proficiency in English.

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