Sharing information from the National Pupil Database

On February 8th 2016 we learned that the National Pupil Database [NPD] holds records of 19,807,973 pupils going right back to 2000.

There are issues over:

the amount of data collected
the length of time the information is stored by the Government
the people with whom the information can be shared
the fact that parents and children have no say over who can see the information
the fact that parents aren’t allowed to see what is on the database for their child
the fact that the Government doesn’t tell schools collecting the data about all the people who might see the information

Once it has been agreed that information can be shared with journalists, consultants, charities bidding for contracts, market researchers etc there are issues over:

the security of transmission for sharing information
the safe storage and confidentiality of the shared information
the length of time the information is stored once the person has made use of it

As explained  here, the Department for Education has specific legal powers to collect pupil, child and workforce data held by schools, local authorities and awarding bodies under section 114 of the Education Act 2005,  section 537A of the Education Act 1996, and  section 83 of the Children Act 1989.

This is the information collected:

Unique Learner Number
On roll/no longer on roll of school
Local authority school reports to
Establishment number of the school attended as assigned by the DfE
Local Authority code of the school
Unique Pupil Number
Surname
Forenames
Middle Names
Preferred Surname
Former Surname
Gender
Date Of Birth
Age At Start Of Academic Year
Year Of Birth
Month Of Birth
Ethnicity
Source Of Ethnicity
Free School Meals eligibility
Parents consent to pupil data being shared with Connexions
In Care
Care Authority
Adopted From Care
Mother Tongue
Language
Mode Of Travel used by the child for the greater part (in distance) of the journey to school
Walk, Cycle, Car/Van, Car Share (with a child/children from a different household), Public Service Bus, Dedicated School Bus, Bus (type not known), Taxi, Train, London Underground, Metro/Tram/Light Rail
Service Child
Funded Hours
Contact hours pupil should spend in Census week (PRUs only)
Hours At Setting
Registration Type
Type Of Class
Date Of Joining
Leaving Date
Part Time
Boarder
Actual National Curriculum Year Group
SEN stage
SEN status
Primary SEN type
Secondary SEN type
Special Provision Indicator
SEN Unit Indicator
Resourced Provision Indicator
Top Up Funding
School Lunch Taken
Planned learning hours in current academic year
Planned learning hours in previous academic year
Planned employability, enrichment and pastoral hours in current academic year
Planned employability, enrichment and pastoral hours in previous academic year
Pupil in full time employment
Disability
Type of Disability
Postcode
Home LA based on pupil postcode
New 9 digit Local Authority code introduced by ONS
Flag to show if the Pupil’s postcode has changed since the previous Spring Census
Distance in miles from pupil postcode to current school
Distance in miles from pupil postcode to nearest suitable school
LAESTAB number of nearest suitable school to pupil postcode
number of GCSEs being taken by pupil
pupil taking GNVQ or VCE
pupil taking GNVQ precursor
pupil taking a NVQ
pupil taking the International Baccalaureate
National Statistics Postcode Directory Census Output Area derived from the pupil’s postcode
National Statistics Postcode Directory Lower Layer Super Output Area derived from the pupil’s postcode (based on 2001 Census)
National Statistics Postcode Directory Lower Layer Super Output Area derived from the pupil’s postcode (based on 2011 Census)
Income Deprivation Affecting Children Indices) score derived from the pupil’s postcode

The NPD User Guide is here

The Education (Individual Pupil Information) (Prescribed Persons) (England) Regulations 2009 (LINK, only available in original un-amended form, although  academies were added in 2010) then allow the department to share individual pupil data from the NPD with schools, local authorities, other government departments and agencies.

However, in 2013 the Government amended the Prescribed Persons regulations [ LINK ] and gave itself permission to share NPD records with potentially much greater numbers of people, including religious bodies for schools.

(b)in paragraph (6) for sub-paragraph (d), substitute—

“(d)persons who, for the purpose of promoting the education or well-being of children in England are—
(i)conducting research or analysis,
(ii)producing statistics, or
(iii)providing information, advice or guidance,
and who require individual pupil information for that purpose(5)”

LINK]

(Sub-paragraph (d) originally said(d)persons conducting research into the educational achievements of pupils and who require individual pupil information for that purpose”)

DfE explains that “for the purposes of these Regulations, ‘well-being’ has the meaning referred to in sections 332E and 507B of the Education Act 1996 in relation to those sections. Section 332E was inserted by section 1 of the Special Educational Needs (Information) Act 2008 (c.11) and section 507B was inserted by section 6(1) of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 (c.40).”

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2008/11/england/enacted?view=plain
332E 1)This section has effect for the interpretation of sections 332C and 332D.

(4)Any reference to the well-being of children with special educational needs is a reference to their well-being so far as relating to—
(a)physical and mental health and emotional well-being;
(b)protection from harm and neglect;
(c)education, training and recreation;
(d)the contribution made by them to society;
(e)social and economic well-being.”

 

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/40/section/6
(13)In this section—
[…]
“well-being”, in relation to a person, means his well-being so far as relating to—
(a)physical and mental health and emotional well-being;
(b)protection from harm and neglect;
(c)education, training and recreation;
(d)the contribution made by him to society;
(e)social and economic well-being.”

Lets just look again at who can view the information on the database

“persons who, for the purpose of promoting the education or well-being of children in England are—

(i) conducting research or analysis,
(ii) producing statistics, or
(iii) providing information, advice or guidance”

“Research” turns out to be a very broad term. It does not simply mean academic research. As long as a case can be made for investigation “promoting the education or well-being of children” it could be market research or consultancy  to existing schools or academy sponsors or to potential new Free Schools.

The 2013 amendment was put through by Secretary of State Michael Gove, a  former journalist and keen supporter of Free Schools who also oversaw the massive expansion of academies.

Since “wellbeing” includes “recreation” the National Pupil Database also provides valuable information for companies and organisations providing broader services for children and young people.

The Prince’s Trust wanted  information for young people they worked with dating back to when they had been at school including free school meal eligiblity, special needs, absences, exclusions, behaviours, attainment (at KS3 and KS4), alongside an equivalent control group, to assist the charity in calculating the value of its work.

A journalist from Newsnight specifically requested data on children’s neighbourhood, ethnicity and mother tongue, looked after child status, special needs, service children, gifted and talented, distance from school, ethnic group, English as Additional Language status, Free School Meal eligibility, SEN, age, and gender.

A journalist working for the Times newspaper asked for sensitive data in order to “pick interesting cases /groups of students” and build an interactive tool to make inference about students’ progression.

There are issues over:

the amount of data collected
the length of time the information is stored by the Government
the people with whom the information can be shared
the fact that parents and children have no say over who can see the information
the fact that parents aren’t allowed to see what is on the database for their child
the fact that the Government doesn’t tell schools collecting the data about all the people who might see the information

The Government points to section 33 of the Data Protection Act as justification for:

retaining individual records on school pupils long after children have grown up and left school
allowing other people to make use of the information over and above what anyone was told when the information was originally collected
not having to tell people (“data subjects”) when their personal data are shared for “research purposes”

I have reproduced http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/29/section/33 section 33 below

Research, history and statistics.

(1)In this section— “research purposes” includes statistical or historical purposes…
(2)For the purposes of the second data protection principle, the further processing of personal data only for research purposes in compliance with the relevant conditions is not to be regarded as incompatible with the purposes for which they were obtained.
(3)Personal data which are processed only for research purposes in compliance with the relevant conditions may, notwithstanding the fifth data protection principle, be kept indefinitely.
(4)Personal data which are processed only for research purposes are exempt from section 7 if—
(a)they are processed in compliance with the relevant conditions, and
(b)the results of the research or any resulting statistics are not made available in a form which identifies data subjects or any of them.
(5)For the purposes of subsections (2) to (4) personal data are not to be treated as processed otherwise than for research purposes merely because the data are disclosed—
(a)to any person, for research purposes only,
(b)to the data subject or a person acting on his behalf,
(c)at the request, or with the consent, of the data subject or a person acting on his behalf, or
(d)in circumstances in which the person making the disclosure has reasonable grounds for believing that the disclosure falls within paragraph (a), (b) or (c).

Once it has been agreed that information can be shared with journalists, consultants, charities bidding for contracts, market researchers etc there are issues over:

the security of transmission for sharing information
the safe storage and confidentiality of the shared information
the length of time the information is stored once the person has made use of it

The briliant defenddigitalme site explains everything

http://defenddigitalme.com/2015/12/what-sensitive-data-do-the-papers-get-and-why/
http://defenddigitalme.com/call-to-review-relevant-legislation/
http://defenddigitalme.com/2016/01/national-pupil-database-uses-of-named-data-from-the-school-census/

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