Parents have boycotted a school census to protect against administrators being ‘turned into border guards’ by the government.
Questionnaires asking for country of birth and nationality data came home in the book-bags of children across Britain in October. They followed a new Department of Education (DfE) policy requiring schools, nurseries and childminders to state whether their children are foreign nationals.
Although it’s not currently compulsory to reply, the request dropped at an increasingly hostile time for migrants and ethnic minorities.
Campaigners from the coalition Against Borders for Children, which is leading the boycott, say collecting data for all children aged 2-19 is ‘unnecessary, divisive and puts vulnerable children at risk’.
The DfE insists that this year’s data will not be used for immigration purposes. But a Freedom of Information request revealed that the Home Office accessed information about individual children on the National Pupil Database for this reason, on multiple occasions, between April 2012 and July 2016.
‘We think it’s a breach of professional trust and not what parents and pupils expect when they give their confidential data to a school, thinking they’re doing the right thing for their child,’ says Jen Persson, co-ordinator of data privacy campaign defenddigitalme.
Campaigners hope the House of Lords will overturn the law. ‘We want to see it scrapped and safeguards put in place,’ says Persson.