DfE to drop gathering nationality data

Privacy campaigners are celebrating after claims the government is planning to drop a controversial requirement for schools to gather data on students’ country of birth and nationality.

There’s no doubt that data is important to all businesses across all industries. Data on everything from business performance to customers and employees can be gathered and turned into valuable and actionable insights. But if a recent campaign and resulting government U-turn is anything to go by, it seems certain data collection processes take things a step too far…

As the Guardian reports, campaign group Against Borders for Children (ABC) has petitioned against the policy since it was introduced in September 2016. It hails the expected government U-turn a “comprehensive victory.”

It is anticipated that the Department for Education (DfE) will soon get in touch with schools to advise that they are no longer required to collect information from parents about their child’s nationality and birth country as part of the school census.

Commenting on the news, teacher and ABC spokesperson Alan Munroe hailed it a “massive victory for a small group of activists with no budget and no staff, just a determination that [schools] should be a safe learning environment for every child.”

Advocacy and policy officer at human rights charity Liberty, Gracie Bradley, added: “This is a huge victory for the teachers, parents and campaigners who stood up and refused to comply with this poisonous attempt to build foreign children lists.”

The government back down came after huge opposition from parents, teachers and human rights bodies who said the requirement to gather nationality data was turning schools into border controls. Over 500 people donated more than £12,000 in total to fund court action in a bid to overturn the policy.

The DfE has neither confirmed nor denied the reports due to continuing legal action, however sources told Schools Week that parents would not need to submit nationality data in the upcoming census due 17 May.

The government insisted the data was required to help schools better cater for pupils whom English was not their first language, and said it would not be passed to the Home Office for immigration purposes. Yet in December 2016 a freedom of information request found officials had an agreement to disclose personal details of up to 1,500 pupils per month with the Home Office to “create a hostile environment” in schools for illegal migrants.

We hope the government U-turn of this unfair policy will go some way in helping to reduce prejudice and discrimination in our schools.

This news comes at a time when schools are rightly scrutinising all the data they hold in preparation for the looming GDPR.

Have you considered the necessity of data requested of teachers during the recruitment stage? Find our advice on compliant recruitment of staff here www.eteachgroup/gdpr/.





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