The Department for Education (DfE) will compile data on the number schoolchildren from immigrant families in England’s schools ahead of the census on October 6.
DfE has changed the information that will be collected from schools, which previously only records pupils’ race and will now be extended to include information about nationality and country of birth.
Parents will have the option to withhold the information and schools can record the information as “refused”. Coordinator of children’s privacy group DefendDigitalMe, Jen Persson, said the parents opt out rights need be clearly communicated by the schools, “It could be very confusing for parents why some data is compulsory and not others?”
A DfE spokesperson said, “The information will be used to help the DfE better understand how children with, for example, English as an additional language, perform in terms of broader learning.”
However DefendDigitalMe questioned why the data already collected by the Office for National Statistics is being duplicated, adding it was important the DfE made it clear who would be able to access the data, its purposes and any right for parents to refuse to provide the information.
When the DfE applied to make the change it said it “may” be used to facilitate the “targeting of support to such pupils” and will “assist in the identification of such pupils.”