We are all calling on the Department for Education to respect children’s data privacy, or pause the start of a new national data collection of sensitive data in Alternative Provision from January 2018.

Download [original letter as sent by post and email] December 11, 2017 and email introduction below.

Wondering what you can do to help? See here.

Short briefing [download .pdf 123 KB] 14 Dec 2017

Rt Hon Justine Greening MP
Secretary of State for Education
Department for Education
Sanctuary Buildings
Great Smith Street
London SW1P 3BT


Dear Secretary of State,

we write to you regarding the new Department for Education collection of reasons for school children’s transfer from mainstream education into Alternative Provision, and  the DfE broader handling of pupils’ personal confidential data, its extraction, and secondary purpose re-use.

The next planned AP Census collection date on January 18, 2018. Action to ensure safeguards, and communicate well to affected families, grows increasingly urgent. We ask for your consideration of nine recommendations towards better data policy and practice, to ensure:

  • the data will be safe
  • children’s confidentiality will be respected
  • children and parents will be told how data are used and retained

We appreciate and support the need to understand the reasons for pupil AP transfers, in particular concerns about children “managed out” from mainstream school to boost league table results. However, we do not believe that this should cost children their confidentiality.

We call on you and your Department to respect and strengthen the digital wellbeing of children across England, to restore public and professional trust in the school census and data handling, through a commitment to safe, privacy preserving solutions and transparent expansion decisions:

  • in the best interest of children and with respect to their rights under the UNCRC,
  • to provide a stable basis for data collected in schools and classroom in practice, 
  • to underpin the use of quality education data in public interest research
  • as a strong foundation for growth in the edTech market anticipated in the UK Digital Strategy

We ask for your support of these recommendations towards safe and transparent education data, and a step-change in data handling by the Department, suitable for 2018 and beyond.

If the Department of Education cannot end the distribution of identifying data for indirect and commercial re-use purposes, and commit to children’s confidentiality; we believe the government should not collect the data at all.

Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to your view and next steps.


Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE)
Biometrics in Schools
The Campaign for State Education (CASE)
John Carr OBE, Secretary, Children’s Charities’ Coalition on Internet Safety (CHIS)
Driver Youth Trust
Dr Pam Jarvis, Chartered Psychologist, social media researcher, teacher and grandparent
Dr. Ansgar Koene, Senior Research Fellow, University of Nottingham
Professor Sonia Livingstone OBE, London School of Economics and Political Science
Professor Berry Mayall, Professor of Childhood Studies, UCL
Royal Mencap Society
The National Education Union (NUT section)
The Parents Union
Parent Zone
Rescue Our Schools
Joseph Savirimuthu, Senior Lecturer in Law at the School of Law and Social Justice, University of Liverpool
Teenage Pregnancy Knowledge Exchange
Trailblazers (Mentoring Young Offenders)