The State of Data 2018: rights and responsibilities in education

a review of the state of children’s privacy and data protection in education in England in 2018, ahead of GDPR.

Despite the ongoing circles of enthusiasm around edTech there is little understanding of the implications and the potential impacts on children’s lives of the collection of huge amounts of data this means – both positive and negative – very little is known about the range of possible impacts, measuring pedagogical success, or what ethical foundation in a world of ‘Big Data’ is necessary for children’s full development, free from interference, and with freedom to flourish.

What is the starting point? What is the state of play in how children’s personal data are used in the public sector — by commercial and state actors, and are we moving in the right direction building a good foundation ready for new laws and new technology? To begin to address this knowledge gap from an applied, parent / child / school perspective, we have explored the current state of play.

1. The Parents’ survey of Pupil data use

The State of Data 2018 survey presents over 1,000 parents’ opinions of children’s data collection and uses in state education in England.

Survation polled respondents online, between 17th and 20th February 2018. All 1,004 respondents were parents of state-educated children age 5-19. These respondents were asked detailed questions about their child’s personal data in school, their understanding of which technologies were used, as well as questions about their attitudes towards the use of children’s personal confidential data at national level by third parties.

Blog  A survey of parents in England has found that only half of parents agree they have enough control of their child’s digital footprint. [read more]
Highlights Infographic [download .pdf 3.4 Mb]
Full tables can be found here.

2. A sample of Views on GDPR Readiness in Schools

As part of work for The State of Data 2018 we also asked school IT staff to participate.

We also ran a small and an informal survey of IT professionals from 35 schools in parallel: “Are we ready for GDPR? A survey to complete only with reference to a state-funded educational organisation for any children age 2-19 in the UK. (The word “school” in questions, refers to any such organisation delivering education).”

Download survey views from schools on GDPR readiness [snapshot of small sample of IT and Data Protection staff in 35 schools .pdf 939 kB]


3. A sample of Schools’ use of technology obtained through Freedom of Information [Coming soon]

4. The Report [COMING soon]

5. Event

The State of Data 2018: Rights and Responsibilities

Monday March 12, The House of Commons, Committee Room 10 [View blog with 7 recommendations for policy makers, and full event transcript]

6. What’s next?

What kind of future are we heading for and why? Work should be done including research to capture the views of children and young people, and greater school staff and parental involvement, while acknowledging that there may need to be a thorough education process to bring parents, teachers and children up to speed how their data are already used, before asking what they think about future uses.

Using a Foresight approach, the potential impacts of the datafication of children in key areas (democratic, economic, social, and flourishing) could be explored with assessment of the drivers that will shape these outcomes. Outcomes for children are already subject to Behavioural Insights and predictive analytics on a scale well beyond that we are aware of. Where is the ethics of ‘nudge’ in national policy and in children and young people’s lives?

Having mapped these possible ‘futures’ research could examine how different policy approaches might influence these outcomes, specifically to enhance the positive impacts of the ever-growing use of personal data from children in education, while mitigating the most important risks.

Every step and path in national education policy must be based on data which are safe, fair and transparent, with the best interests of the child and human rights at their heart.