Elham Asaad Buaras
A new campaign group has been launched this autumn to topple a new Government policy which aims to collect immigration data on every child aged between 2 and 19.
Against Borders for Children (ABC) – which consists coalition of parents, teachers, data protection campaigners and migrant rights organisations – was launched on September 6, in time for the start of the school term.
ABC is fighting against the inclusion of data to the National Pupil Database through the School Pupil Census and Early Years Census.
According to the ABC, “Some schools have already asked parents to provide birth certificates, passports, or other forms of identity documentation although the Government’s guidance says that is not necessary.”
Campaigners are concerned that this data could in future be used by immigration enforcement to target individual children and families. The campaign is calling for a national boycott and asking parents to refuse to take part, as they are legally entitled to do.
Campaigners have previously revealed that the Home Office and other departments already have access to information on the National Pupil Database. Most parents and school staff are unaware that this information is due to be gathered for the National Pupil Database nor do many know how the database is already being used by third parties.
In a statement to The Muslim News Arun Mistry, a primary school teacher and spokesperson for ABC, said: “We want the new Secretary of State to reconsider these plans, which we believe will further stigmatise foreign national children in English schools. Until these plans are reversed, we are encouraging all parents and schools to lawfully boycott this policy by refusing to take part, whatever their nationality or country of origin.”
He added that there is “no clear legitimate use for this data collection, and our concern is that in future this will be used to turn English schools into border checkpoints. Identifying which schools need more support to provide English as an Additional Language teaching is important, but that information is already collected separately. Pupil data is already provided to third parties, so the risks are substantial, and if this information is leaked it would provide a tailor-made list of vulnerable young people which racist organisations could then misuse.”
Gargi Bhattacharyya, an East London mother of two school-age boys, said: “My older child has told me how worried many of his friends have been after the referendum. Children understand that being a migrant is seen to be a bad thing now and that there is a question mark about their belonging here. After the attacks on community centres, I am worried that some schools will be attacked because of their association with migrant children and families.”
“Collecting this information in schools does not add any useful data – that is already collected through other means – so I have to think that the main point is to stigmatise migrant children.”