Pupil data used in secret breaches public trust: Home Office purposes confirmed

The Home Office and police has had, until through our Freedom-of-Information requests, publicly undocumented access to national school census data through the Department for Education National Pupil Database. [update: 29 October we now know from the Parliamentary question that for the purposes of immigration control between July 2015 and September 2016, the Home Office has made requests of DfE data on 25 occasions, relating to a total of 2,462 individuals.]…

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The new school census law needs scrapped

Yesterday’s article in the Guardian #BoycottSchoolCensus: why parents are refusing to reveal their child’s nationality raises another important point, that of changing technology and future scope of use: ‘It doesn’t currently have the capacity, though it could perhaps in the future.” The new census law needs scrapped if it cannot be amended Unless all uses and limitations are on a statutory footing, we are calling for the new school census…

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Back-to-School sees new pupil data expansion

School staff in England will start to collect more pupil data this week as children go Back-to-School. Country of birth will be collected for the first time, and be extracted at national level together with nationality for the first time, as well as all the other usual named personal confidential data in the spring census, from on-roll school census day January 19, 2017. This data expansion affects 8 million school…

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A wish list for the Data Strategy and Information Standards Lead

The Department for Education has announced it is recruiting for a Data Strategy and Information Standards Lead ahead of a change programme. “The Data Modernisation Division is at the heart of realising this strategy. It is responsible for a range of exciting development projects which together are seeking to improve the way data and information is moved, stored, processed and released by the Department – to ensure that DfE’s data…

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Three strides towards transparency in the National Pupil Database

Three strides towards greater transparency were taken by the DfE this week, following The Director General for Regulation at the UK Statistics Authority [UKSA] letter to the Department for Education [Dfe], calling for the Department to improve transparency and data handling of the National Pupil Database. [Letter to us dated, April 22, 2016]. Now the question is, how will schools, parents and pupils be told? The UK Statistics Authority had…

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Director General for Regulation, UK Statistics Authority supports call for transparency and better data handling of 20 million pupils’ data

The Director General for Regulation at the UK Statistics Authority [UKSA] has written to the Department for Education [DfE], calling for the Department to improve transparency and data handling of the National Pupil Database [letter dated, April 22, 2016]. The UK Statistics Authority has reviewed the DfE handling of the National Pupil Database and recommended: 1. more transparency through frequent and regular publication of the third parties who are getting…

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Government Internal Audit Agency found improvement needed on National Pupil Database

Improvements should be made over vetting and validation of applications to access the National Pupil Database, information retention procedures, and data handling guidance, according to The DfE Consolidated Annual Report and Accounts 2014-15 published on April 20, 2016. The Government Internal Audit Agency (GIAA) rated assurance as ‘Limited’. [p40] The internal audit findings confirm our concerns that the access process for the National Pupil Database needs urgent attention. The Department gives…

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Parallel processes will not work for pupil data

The Department of Education will need to answer how its current practices sit with the outcome of two-years of Cabinet Office data sharing discussions and current consultation and a non-commercial,  public interest centred approach. We will be asking questions how multiple approaches to using the same data can be used in parallel and remain truthful and transparent to the public whose data they are. How will education data be used…

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‘Researchers’ overreach will put public trust at risk

Who is a “researcher”? and what are “research purposes”? These are questions we have asked in recent discussions in the last two weeks to move forward the changes needed to make 20 million individuals in England’s personal confidential and sensitive data safe, and its use transparent. Unconnected, the call by Tom Steinberg, for “a public technology Hippocratic oath” is timely. Researchers this week risked jeopardising public trust in the academic…

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#DataProtectionDay 2016: Five steps to improve pupil data

On Data Protection Day the news for children in England is that you appear to have very little. And when things go wrong there is next to no recourse. Yesterday the DCMS had an evidence session in the “Cyber security: Protection of personal data online inquiry” with the Information Commissioner Office, to discuss the loss of personal data from TalkTalk. The commission and Parliament have both discussed TalkTalk, involving 160,000…

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