June 2  RFC notice for the changes raised by the Department for Education

September 1 Statutory Instrument 807/2017 comes into effect. The Education (Information About Children in Alternative Provision) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2017, after being laid on July 27, 2017. The Explanatory Note gives no explanation of the itemised content and sensitivity of the reasons for placement (transfer out of mainstream into Alternative provision education).

September 21 defenddigitalme writes to the Department for Education and Information Commissioner raising concerns on the sensitivity of the new data, including health, to be collected without consent and asking for clarifications on plans for distribution and the SEND (special educational needs and disability) data expansion.

October defenddigitalme writes again by email to the Department for Education and is told to expect a reply by the end of November.

October 18 Parliamentary question 108570 reveals the Department has not conducted any privacy impact assessment about the collection of data on pregnancy, health and mental health “reasons for placement.”

November 30 defenddigitalme receives a brief email at 7pm stating in effect that there will be no change in plans. Questions from letter of September 21, remain unanswered.

December 10 representatives of over 20 child rights advocates and organisations write to the Secretary of State for Education asking for safeguards to be put in place to protect children’s privacy and confidentiality. If the Department cannot end the distribution of data to third parties including for commercial third-party re-use, we believe the data should not be collected at all.

December 11 Peers in the House of Lords raise concerns on the national pupil database handing, and its suitability for the sensitive new data.

December 22 Parliamentary question HL4236 confirms that some data should be optional, but these do not include the new reasons for placement.

December 22 Further, the Department confirms that there are no plans for any national communication about its new collection and third-party uses, and it relies on Local Authorities to inform (a) parents and (b) children about the transfer of personal data to the Department in the Alternative Provision census from 18 January 2018, through a privacy notice.

December 24 A joint letter by the signatories is published in the Observer, accompanied by a news article.


January DfE AP Census Guidance 2018 v1.4 published – text change states that service children indicator should not be ascribed.

January Joined by Unlock, representatives of over 20 child rights advocates and organisations write to the new Secretary of State for Education, the Rt Hon Damien Hinds MP.

February Lawyers at Leigh Day have submitted a letter before action on behalf of defenddigitalme. We have launched a crowdjustice crowdfunder to raise the funds we will need to challenge the Department for Education on fairness, interference with privacy and family life, and tackle the distribution of named and identifying data.

May the BBC reports Sharing of school pupils’ data put on hold effective May 1, 2018.

August defenddigitalme receives a reply from the Office of the Information Commissioner, 11 months after we raised our concerns on lack of fair processing (four months ahead of the planned first collection).

September-December legal work continues for preparation of next stages of complaint to the ICO and the Department. Freedom of Information requests to every Local Authority establish little progress in fairness despite GDPR 2018 introduction.

December 13 Department releases External Data Shares for the first time under the new model. The distribution of personal data continues to be far too broad, with over two thirds of 2018 data shares, still sending sensitive and identifying personal data to third party settings. [For example, see pages 35-41 in which “Pupil level and exam level files will also be provided.”]

December 21 Next stage of second formal Department and ICO complaints sent.

For more information including what you can do, visit our dedicated Alternative Provision action page.