back to article told: Your frantic farming of pupils' data is getting a little creepy

Plans to expand the vast National Pupil Database to include information on why kids leave mainstream education have been slammed by privacy campaigners. The government's stated aim is to better understand how and why pupils end up with alternative provision (AP) by adding more detail to the information collected in the annual …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Get formal permission or just drop it!

    But hey try telling that to 'The Federation' aka Govt-Big-Data-Inc, who felt sharing NHS patient data with Google-Deepmind was just fine with us too.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Get formal permission or just drop it!

      The trouble is that now, even when data collecting might be useful and valuable for the public good, who is going to trust them.

      1. cbars

        Re: Get formal permission or just drop it!

        They trust themselves, and that's what matters.

        Unfortunately, that is also literally all that counts

    2. SVV

      Re: Get formal permission or just drop it!

      Well, they're becoming more and more like Google every day - mass collection of data, and making money off it. The Tory manifesto title should have been "You Are The Product", and they should have been upfront about the fact that lower taxes for a while mean saying farewell to youyr privacy, forever.

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    government minister Lord Ashton of Hyde* countered that the sharing of individual-level pupil data is "already highly regulated" and runs according to a "rigorous process".

    That's fine providing the regulations are fit for purpose. It doesn't excuse lack of consideration as to their fitness.

    *Does he have a neighbour, Lord Hyde of Ashton to make things symmetrical?

    1. iron Silver badge

      Lord Hyde of Ashton?

      Only when he drinks the secret formula!

  3. conscience

    It's all just too creepy, and inflicting it on school children who could then be affected throughout their adult lives is unforgivable. It is a bad idea to collect so much data in the first place as it can never be guaranteed to be kept secret, and the bigger the database the more attractive it will be to hackers (or anyone who finds a government laptop left on a train). Besides the obvious "for money" answer, why on Earth would this supposedly confidential data be shared with anyone? There is simply no excuse for it.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      why on Earth would this supposedly confidential data be shared with anyone

      The Guardian asks how many children have been excluded, and how do their statistics match the whole pupil population. Or can schools continue expelling all the below average students the week before the exam and now claim that any evidence of this is top secret?

      1. SloppyJesse

        "The Guardian asks how many children have been excluded"

        select count(*) from all_pupils where excluded='Y' [*]

        No sharing of pupil level data required.

        I don't have a problem with detailed data being collected to monitor schools and ensure they aren't gaming the system - it's the retention and sharing 'for other purposes' that is the issue. If this is really about monitoring the educational institutions there is no reason for the information to 'haunt' pupils throughout their life - there's no reason to ever tie the data to an individual once they've finished education.

        The real issue is WE do not trust that THEY will use this data only for the purposes they are stating or look after it properly.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "...inflicting it on school children who could then be affected throughout their adult lives is unforgivable"

      ...inflicting it on school children who could then be affected throughout their adult lives is the whole point.


  4. Gary Lloyd 1

    Doesnt GDPR have any affect on this? Or are governments exempt.

  5. Scott Broukell

    Settle down everybody, settle down, now, would all the year one boys line up on that side of the hall and all the girls on the other side please. Chop, chop, please hurry up. Now then, the girls will all get a pink barcode tatooed across their foreheads and the boys will get theirs in blue. Does anybody have any questions? Good, then we will begin.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Hopefully with next year's planned upgrades everyone's barcocde will be unique - at the moment you all have to share a single login and record

  6. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Wrong wording

    "getting" should not be in the article title.

    Thinking about it, neither should "a little"

  7. tiggity Silver badge

    Because terrorism

    Expect that as a reason for it.

    Some proportion of kids being pulled from mainstream education will be due to religious zealots not wanting their offspring exposed to something that may conflict with their particular world view, e.g. they may object to messages such as gays are not scum, there are lots of different religious / non religious viewpoints on a subject etc.

    So, they have that excuse

    1. Alastair

      Re: Because terrorism

      Not quite - this list only includes pupils who are being paid for by the local authority - home educated children are not in this list (unless they are local-authority funded for some special reason).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Because [follow the money]

      The reason given may be anything. But the usual reason is to keep a record for the proof they are owed money for the service they provide.

      Such a good service. The one that was not giving 4 or so of us who could do the higher exams the chance. Because only 2 of us were still bothering with the repetitive work, and the teacher considered it too much effort to get an order in for 2 different exam papers...

      ... or the time the lecture walked in, showed us what our project was, walked up to the computer said "do the things on the software like this", then walked out. No, they did not demonstrate anything, they literally said "like this" and walked out. Sadly they obviously had no knowledge of how to work the software in any basic form themselves.

      But if a child so much as dares take in a packed lunch and forfeit the already paid for school dinners which include only the choice of everything they are allergic to... then the courts will be out for their parents*!

      *Ok, that one I've not seen in person, but heard of. The one I have seen in person is the kid getting sent back home from school, because the shorts were ever so slightly the wrong shade of navy blue!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    GOV.UK & Schools Both Over Share Pupil Data

    Jen Persson is quite right to be concerned about pupil data being shared with 3rd parties. As well as GOV.Uk sharing the NPD data, schools also share data from their MIS systems with a wide array of 'service providers' with little regard for the legality.

    "Everyone else shares data with provider X, so we'll be OK...just tell the parents via the data privacy reads them anyway...we don't have to report's not our problem if the data processor messes up...a slap on the wrist is the only risk...and we *love* those shiny nice-to-have reports".

    My son sent a SAR to one such 'carefully selected' provider who were so woeful they even denied storing pupil data or being a data processor at all. A few emails later and the SAR response duly arrived. How can schools justify sharing pupil data with suck feckwits!?!?!

    The Earl of Clancarty (great title) is right to call for a statutory code regarding the use of pupil data. As he points out "..children are currently disempowered in relation to their own personal data in schools."

    The DfE might well be "actively reviewing its data-sharing processes with third parties" ahead of GDPR, but this is also urgently needed at the school level.

  9. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    So data fetishists in the DfE as well.

    It's a pupil database where data is retained indefinitely

    Let's be real f**king real here.

    This is a long term strategy to get a clean load on the next sock-puppet who calls for a "National Identity Card" but actually means cradle-to-grave surveillance of where you are and what you are doing.

    Because if it's not then it's a huge f**king waste of resources.

    This obsession some senior civil servants have with having every piece of information on everyone is not a sane policy. It's a personality disorder

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. hoola Silver badge

    This is just the tip of an iceberg

    This is just the tip of the iceberg on data collection and the inappropriate use of technology/data. Increasingly schools are using biometric authentication for the highly secure task of paying for food. The schools then tout the bull that no personal information is stored as the fingerprint is turned into a number. They then also fail to tell you that you can opt out.

    The kids all have ID cards with a photo on and a chip (probably MiFare) that when they use it shows the picture of the pupil in the system so that the catering staff can see it it the correct person. It does exactly the same with the biometric. The kids hate biometrics because it is slower.

    In the case of my kids, the school techy has no idea other than the name of the company providing the service and that it is encrypted.

    If you speak to the company they tell you the data is encrypted in a database and no personal information is held (WTF). They cannot even tell you if the servers/service is running in the UK, probably because it is in AWS or Azure at the cheapest rate.

    If you speak to the company that runs the system

  12. adam payne

    However, government minister Lord Ashton of Hyde countered that the sharing of individual-level pupil data is "already highly regulated" and runs according to a "rigorous process".

    Oh the usual sound bites again.

    Your rigorous process may not be my idea of a rigorous process.

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