A GUIDE TO HOW WE PROCESS INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR CHILD
Schools hold information on their pupils and from time to time, by law, they have to share some of the information with various government departments.
Schools will also share information with other organisations where there is a need to protect a child or someone else from harm.
The Data Protection Act 1998 calls schools, local authorities and other organisations that process children’s information ’data controllers’. This means, among other things that the information held about children must only be used for specific purposes allowed by law.
We have set out below:
- what type of information is held about your child
- why this information is held
- some of the organisations that may see it
- what some of the organisations do with the information.
Schools process information on their pupils for the following reasons.
- To support their teaching and learning
- To monitor and report on their pupil’s progress
- To make sure children get the help and support that they need at school
- To assess how well the school is doing in general
- Schools hold the following information.
- Basic information such as your child’s date of birth and details about you (such as your name and address)
- Characteristics such as your child’s ethnic origin
- Information about your child’s attendance in school
- Information about your child if they are excluded from school
- Information about child protection (if this applies)
- Information about antisocial incidents like bullying and racism
- Your child’s national curriculum assessment results
- Your child’s special educational needs (if any) and any relevant medical information
The Local Authority uses information about children for whom it provides services to carry out specific functions for which it is responsible, such as the assessment of any special educational needs the child may have. It also uses the information to derive statistics to inform decisions on (for example) the funding of schools, and to assess the performance of schools and set targets for them.
The statistics are used in such a way that individual children cannot be identified from them. LAs also have a duty under the Children Act 2004 to cooperate with their partners in health and youth justice to improve the well-being of children in their areas.
The Local Authority has responsibility for the Admissions procedures for children entering schools and uses information about children and their parents/carers for this purpose. The Authority will also process information from School Workforce Census Datasets for the purposes of provision of Free School Meals.
The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority uses information about pupils to administer national curriculum assessments throughout Key Stages 1 to 3. This includes both assessments required by statute and those that are optional. The results of these are passed on to DfE to compile statistics on trends and patterns in levels of achievement. The QCA uses the information to evaluate the effectiveness of the national curriculum and the associated assessment arrangements, and to ensure that these are continually improved.
Ofsted uses information about the progress and performance of pupils to help inspectors evaluate the work of schools, to assist schools in their self-evaluation, and as part of Ofsted’s assessment of the effectiveness of education initiatives and policy. Inspection reports do not identify individual pupils.
The Learning and Skills Council uses information about pupils for statistical purposes, to evaluate and develop education policy and to monitor the performance of the education service as a whole. The statistics (including those based on information provided by the QCA) are used in such a way that individual pupils cannot be identified from them. On occasion information may be shared with other Government departments or agencies strictly for statistical or research purposes only.
The LSC also manage the Managing Information Across Partners (MIAP) Programme on behalf of the MIAP membership. MIAP is about making how information on learning and what people achieve is collected, handled and shared across the education sector more efficient. You can find more information about MIAP membership on their website at www.miap.gov.uk
LSC is responsible for developing and running the Learner Registration Scheme (LRS), and for creating a record of achievement for each learner. If your child is 14 or over and registering to study for GCSEs or A-levels, their school will pass on certain details about them to the LRS to create a reference number and maintain certain details about your child. They will also give the MIAP Service information about what your child has achieved to create and maintain a learner record for your child.
The Learner Registration Service will let organisations that have legal permission see the information held about your child using the reference number. You can see the details about these organisations at www.miap.gov.uk you can choose not to allow these organisations to see your child’s information. You can find details of how to do this at www.miap.gov.uk.
The Department of Health uses aggregate information (at school year group level) about pupils’ height and weight for research and statistical purposes, to inform, influence and improve health policy and to monitor the performance of the health service as a whole. The DH will base performance management discussions with Strategic Health Authorities on aggregate information about pupils attending schools in the PCT areas to help focus local resources and deliver the Public Service Agreement target to halt the year on year rise in obesity among children under 11 by 2010, in the context of a broader strategy to tackle obesity in the population as a whole. The Department of Health will also provide aggregate PCT level data to the Healthcare Commission for performance assessment of the health service.
Primary Care Trusts use information about pupils for research and statistical purposes, to monitor the performance of local health services and to evaluate and develop them. The statistics are used in such a way that individual pupils cannot be identified from them. Information on the height and weight of individual pupils may, however, be provided to the child and its parents and this will require the PCTs to maintain details of pupils’ names for this purpose. PCTs may also provide individual schools and LAs with aggregate information on pupils’ height and weight.
Connexions is the Government’s career support service for all young people aged 13 to 19, in England. It also provides support for young people up to the age of 25, who have learning difficulties or disabilities (or both). Connexions Personal Advisers offer different types of support and bring together all the services and support young people need during their teenage years.
Some young people may only need careers advice. But, for others, it may involve more support to help identify barriers to learning and find solutions for them to get more specialist support, for example, for drug abuse, sexual health and homelessness. Personal advisers work in a range of settings including schools, colleges, one-stop shops, community centres, homes and other places where young people might be.
If your child is 13 or over, by law their school must pass on certain information to Connexions when they are asked. This information includes you and your child’s
name and address and any further information relevant to the Connexions services.
The Local Authority and DfE may give Connexions information they have about your child, but they will not pass on any information they have received from your child’s school if you or your child (if your child is 16 or over) have told the school not to give them any information other than your or your child’s name and address.
The Department for Education uses information about pupils for research and statistical purposes, to inform, influence and improve education policy and to monitor the performance of the education service as a whole. The DfE will feed back to LAs and schools information about their pupils for a variety of purposes that will include data checking exercises, use in self evaluation analyses and where information is missing because it was not passed on by a former school.
The DfE will also provide Ofsted with pupil data for use in school inspection. Where relevant, pupil information may also be shared with post 16 learning institutions to minimize the administrative burden on application for a course and to aid the preparation of learning plans.
Pupil information may be matched with other data sources that the Department holds in order to model and monitor pupils’ educational progression; and to provide comprehensive information back to LAs and learning institutions to support their day to day business. The DfE may also use contact details from these sources to obtain samples for statistical surveys: these surveys may be carried out by research agencies working under contract to the Department and participation in such surveys is usually voluntary. The Department may also match data from these sources to data obtained from statistical surveys.
Pupil data may also be shared with other Government Departments and Agencies (including the Office for National Statistics) for statistical or research purposes only. In all these cases the matching will require that individualised data is used in the processing operation, but that data will not be processed in such a way that it supports measures or decisions relating to particular individuals or identifies individuals in any results. This data sharing will be approved and controlled by the Department’s Chief Statistician.
The DfE may also disclose individual pupil information to independent researchers into the educational achievements of pupils who have a legitimate need for it for their research, but each case will be determined on its merits and subject to the approval of the Department’s Chief Statistician.
Pupils, as data subjects, have certain rights under the Data Protection Act, including a general right of access to personal data held on them, with parents exercising this right on their behalf if they are too young to do so themselves.
If you wish to access the personal data held about your child, and then please contact the relevant organization in writing:
- The QCA’s Data Protection Officer at QCA, 83 Piccadilly, London, W1J 8QA;
- Ofsted’s Data Protection Officer at Alexandra House, 33 Kingsway, London WC2B 6SE;
- LSC’s Data Protection Officer at Cheylesmore House, Quinton Road, Coventry, Warwickshire CV1 2WT;
- Public Communications Unit, Department for Education, Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3BT
- the Department of Health Data Protection Officer at Skipton House 80 London Road London SE1 6LH;
- Your local PCT.
In order to fulfill their responsibilities under the Act the organization may, before responding to this request, seek proof of the requestor’s identity and any further information required to locate the personal data requested.
Separately from the Data Protection Act, regulations provide a pupil’s parent (regardless of the age of the pupil) with the right to view, or to have a copy of, their child’s educational record at the school. If you wish to exercise this right you should write to the school.
What the Department for Education does with pupils’ and children’s data
The Department for Education (DfE) uses information about pupils for research and statistical purposes in order to inform, influence and improve education policy and to monitor the performance of the education service as a whole.
Pupil information may be matched with other data sources that DfE holds in order to model and monitor their educational progression and to provide comprehensive information back to local authorities (LAs) and learning institutions to support their day-to-day business. DfE may also use contact details from these sources to obtain samples for statistical surveys which may be carried out by research agencies working under contract to DfE. Participation in such surveys is usually voluntary. DfE may also match data from these sources to data obtained from statistical surveys.
Pupil data may also be shared with other Government departments and agencies (including the Office for National Statistics) for statistical or research purposes only. In all these cases, the matching will require that individualized data is used in the processing operation but that data will not be processed in such a way that it supports measures or decisions relating to particular individuals or identifies individuals in any results. This data sharing will be approved and controlled by the Department’s Chief Statistician.
DfE may also disclose individual pupil information to independent researchers into the educational achievements of pupils who have a legitimate need for it for their research, but each case will be determined on its merits and subject to the approval of the Department’s Chief Statistician. DfE’s powers to pass data to researchers are derived from The Education (Individual Pupil Information) (Prescribed Persons) (England) Regulations. These regulations restrict the researchers who may receive data to ‘persons conducting research into the educational achievements of pupils and who require individual pupil information for that purpose’.
Pupil information will no longer be used for Contact Point. Contact Point is the national database which holds the name and contact details for all children in England (up to their 18th birthday), their parents or carers, and the practitioners working with them. In line with a longstanding policy intention, and a commitment in the Coalition Agreement, the Government has confirmed that Contact Point will be switched off at noon on 6 August 2010. From that date no users will be able to access the system. The database will be destroyed using Government approved security standards and processes. Further information is available on the DfE website.
DfE is the Data Controller for the purposes of the Data Protection Act. Further information is available about the third party organisations to which DfE also passes pupil data, as the law allows.
Pupils, as data subjects, have certain rights under the Data Protection Act, including a general right of access to personal data held on them. Their parents exercise this right on their behalf if they are too young (under 12) to do so themselves.
If you wish to access the personal data which DfE holds about your child, then please contact the Department:
Public Communications Unit Department for Education
Great Smith Street
Telephone: 0870 000 2288
Freedom Of Information & Data Protection