Pupil nationality data: Controversial collection misses data for more than million pupils

Schools failed to collect pupil nationality and country of birth data for hundreds of thousands of pupils for the second year running following an outcry over the controversial policy and a boycott by parents and schools.

Data released today by the Department for Education shows that the government failed to obtain nationality data for 17.8 per cent of pupils in this year’s spring census. This equates to more than 1.4 million children.

This data is listed as “not yet obtained” by schools for 15.4 per cent of pupils, while 1.5 per cent of families refused to provide it.

The government is also missing country of birth data for 16 per cent of children.

This was “not obtained” for 13.6 per cent of pupils, and “refused” for 1.6 per cent.

The proportion of pupils missed by the collection has decreased slightly since last year, when schools failed to obtain data for almost a quarter of pupils in the first spring census to include the divisive additional questions.

A duty for schools to collect pupil nationality and country of birth data was brought in in 2016 as part of the government’s attempt to create a “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants. But parents and pupils were allowed to refuse to provide the information.

The DfE initially claimed it had no plans to share the data with the Home Office for immigration control purposes, but eventually admitted it did have such an agreement following a Schools Week investigation.

The policy was widely opposed, and a high-profile campaign by parents, teachers and human rights and privacy campaigners called for a boycott of the census by families and schools. The collection was eventually scrapped earlier this year following a number of legal challenges.