Schools must collect data on immigrant children from autumn

The government is to start collecting data on how many children from immigrant families are being taught in England’s schools.

The Department for Education (DfE) has changed the information that will be collected from schools this autumn to include details about pupils’ nationality and country of birth.

The change in the census records will expand the current collection, which just records pupils’ ethnicity – i.e. black, white British, Asian, etc.

Last year, Nicky Morgan, the education secretary, announced she had ordered officials to investigate whether immigration levels are linked to “education tourism”.

Schools Week was refused a Freedom of Information request asking for further detail about the inquiry and its scope at the time.

It is understood the information will not be used as part of its investigation into the “impact of mass migration” on schools.

Louise Casey, who has been commissioned to undertake an overarching review into “opportunity and integration” of minority communities by the government, has been asked to look at education as part of this remit.

Schools Week understands schools have already started to contact parents to ask them to provide information about nationality and country of birth ahead of the census in October.

Jen Persson, from DefendDigitalMe, a campaign group calling for more transparency with pupil data, said 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.

She said it was unclear why the data was needed as similar information is collected by the Office for National Statistics.

According to the census guide, parents do not have to provide the information if they choose not to and schools can record the information as “refused”, “not known” or “not yet obtained”.

Persson said: “This is very important for schools to pay attention to. It is the first time pupils and parents are being given the right to opt out of any census data collection, using the term from the DfE guide, “refused”.

“Schools need to communicate this opt out choice very clearly in their new privacy notices to collect and process these data fairly. It could be very confusing for parents why some data is compulsory and not others?”

The census takes place three times a year – once every term. Next year, the census will be carried out on October 6, January 19, 2017, and May 18, 2017.

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”.

Russell Hobby, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said schools would welcome more support for children who had additional learning needs.

He said: “We know that school budgets are already at breaking point because the government is not planning to raise the amount of money offered per pupil even though costs are rising every year.

“When schools and parents provide this additional information they will rightly expect that additional funding is provided in return, otherwise that government promise of extra support will never materialise.”

The information about pupils’ nationality will come in addition to a new measure also being introduced this autumn, which will ask schools to assess how good at English are those pupils classed as “having English as an additional language”, on a five-point scale.

Speaking earlier this month, Sameena Choudry of Equitable Education, said she was worried about the lack of training and support for schools ahead of this change, and warned the data collection could be “messy and inaccurate”.

A DfE spokesperson said:  “The department will collect data on pupils’ country of birth, nationality and level of English proficiency through the school census in line with the national population census.

“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.”

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  1. Andrew Galsworthy

    I think this information is not in the best interest of families as it could easily lead to discrimination in the future especially coming straight after the Brexit referendum. Nationality is already given on the national census so there is absolutely no reason I can think of that it should be required to be given again. The statement above states that the data will be used to “target” pupils for further support but this is very open to abuse and I can easily see this being used to marginalise pupils who come from other EU countries.

  2. Collecting data, which is fundamentally irrelevant to learning (that’s what schools are meant to be for: education, children’s education and nothing else). Whenever I fill in a form of any sort, and I am asked my ethnic back ground, I leave it blank, as it is of no relevance, for any possible imaginable purpose. So why is such data being collected, if not for descrimination and the twisting of morality at every level? when are we going to look past the colour of our skins; religion back ground , and whether we were born in lucky or unlucky. For humanity’s sake, please plase stop creating tribalistic identities. We have to build bridges, and a level playing field for all of us.

  3. C Pipe

    Knowing about the language used in the home is relevant to teachers & those responsible for funding. Birthplace & nationality are irrelevant and could be used in future for reprehensible purposes. If schools put “Not known” for every pupil, it would also of course save them a lot of time.

  4. I think it’s time we as the English public stand up to the government and it’s nazi control… it’s like living in an open prison with its nanny state….. people/institutions need to stop conforming to these self serving rules and requirements that only go to enforce the racist mentality that pervades the region

  5. This is Just ridiculous and tricky. The have nothing to do but sit and plan crap. They think people are stupid.
    They need to go help poor people who can’t afford to send their children to school.

  6. Stephanie Thomas

    This is absolutely crazy for crying out loud this are children we’re talking about, please let this future generations be, they are not terrorist deal with the terrorist setuation and let the kids be.

  7. I believe that this is just an excuse to further probe how many immigrant children are in British schools especially from the EU countries. Asking for nationality is enough to identify pupils background and origin. Adding place of birth is just another waste of resources.

    In terms of determining the proficiency in the English Language, that also can be determined by the English Teacher after a few lessons. After Brexit anything towards identification seems suspicious. What about those children who are adopted and too young to even know details of who they are, where they were born and why they found themselves in Great Britain or in another area other than where they were born?

    This could psychologically affect children and their parents. There is enough data collection going on so enough of the TORY BREXIT HYPOCRISY.

  8. I think that the government should on equality and funding and stop trying to find out person AL information for their own agenda . Further more the government started imigration so they will have to deal with it . Not us the common people

  9. I think that the government should focus on equality and funding and stop trying to find out personal information for their own agenda . Further more the government started imigration so they should deal with it . Not us the common people. We pay taxes to government to ensure we have stability and structure. Not mayhem and intrusion when we abide by the law . We need to educate ourselves parents ,children professionals in the art of Law . So we overstand not understand

  10. Yvette cox

    I think the government is unhanded and decistiful if they can send 50 West Indies back with some of them been in this country for over thirty years haven’t done anything wrong and the media haven’t reported people who fight in war and become ill was also send back this information will be targeted some people especially black west lndian

  11. I think that when a child is initially admitted into nursery or school, these necessary information should be gathered then and registered properly, with birth certificates, and passports where appropriate, also marriage certificate to note family structure,—ALL relevant information must be had. also linking when a hospital registers a NEW BORN with an address, a check that this new born is registered and a birth certificate is issued, because some mothers are not registering the birth especially baby gifts– hence that child falls off the radar and can be sold,–‘THIS IS WHAT THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE CHECKING.— also when a benefit claim is made. those important informations should be asked and passports checked along birth certificates,—. if the person does not supply those informations, there benefits should be placed on hold and no benefits should be given—–This country must stop being a soft touch.( no papers , no benefits), simple,—- give food and clothing , baby supply vouchers,” no cash).—-, by then the government would have in their possession all relevant documents for that particular citizen,THERE ARE MANY CHILDREN WHO ARE BORN IN THIS COUNTRY AND NOT REGISTERED,— WHY???—, are they future fighters who no intelligence won’t be able to trace or track,–,
    The system has too many forms that are repetitive, and relevant Colaton of informations are not put together properly.
    With the advent of terrorism so openly and frequently,radicalisation, open borders for emigration,–‘ it is time to introduce Identity Cards also
    Children should not be asked to carry or bring their passports with them,— if this is necessary, then the parents should be the one carrying the passport,–, not the child

    • yogananna

      I agree with most of what you are saying. But to suggest children aren’t registered may become future fighters is something Donald Trump would say. Also, Identity cards! Smacks of dictatorship. But yes, the kids shouldn’t be the ones carrying the passports.

    • elizabth oneill

      jesus, you would have been a big wig in hitlers Germany, you are wrong on so many levels I don’t know where to start, forced carrying of identity papers, forced starvation of children and families who cant or wont comply with forced identification, and as for this country being a soft touch, we are starving our own poor, unemployed and pensioners, all in the name of tory austerity, all this crap about immigrants eating us out of house and home is just that, CRAP, even the governments own statistics, which they released very quietly, hoping no one would notice, proved that immigrants give a lot more to this country than they take out. if anyone should be forced to leave, it should be bigoted racists like you and the tory party, then Britain might indeed become great again.

  12. Liz Gardiner

    “Education tourism”??? Another Nicky Morgan special.
    The only possible value of requesting this information would be related to a child’s understanding of the language used in the school. Youngsters whose first language isn’t English could receive extra support but, on the whole, this is yet another divisive action by this government.
    Collating data on another generation smacks more of government control.

  13. Every country I have stayed in has asked for nationality details. At the beginning of each school year we have to fill in details as well as a copy of our passports in all the countries except Britain.I am NOT British and my children have always been asked for details, you must remember in a lot of instances our visa’s have a requirement “NO RECOURSE TO PUBLIC FUNDS” so schools should be aware of passport restrictions. What amazes me is that is even an issue.

  14. Concerned parent

    Education tourism? The mind boggles. Nationality is nationality, but what’s the difference between “White Eastern European” and “White Western European” ethnicity… Where’s the line? Greece is East of Serbia but is it “White Eastern European” or “White Western European”? It all seems rather lame-brained and I think I might refuse to complete for my kids who are (probably) a mixture of “White Eastern European”, “White Western European”, “White British” and “White other” (and according to geneticists we’re all actually African in the end). What will we have next, an Apartheid South African style ID pass system?

  15. All children are eligible for an education in this country, regardless of where they were born. Government should stop wasting school resources on immigration management. It’s nonsensical to suggest that knowing where my daughter was born, will help another child to learn English. If you want to improve education for children with English as an additional language, then I believe a teacher is required, not a survey. The school can let you know who is struggling. I’ve put this form in the bin , where it belongs. Disgusted.

  16. Why would anyone invent a problem like “educational turism”? Doesn’t the current governement have enough on its plate with Brexit negotitations or maybe that’s why a new really cry is needed. Why would someone try to open a new source of divisions amongst already devided society? I honestly can’t quite imagine anyone to leave theire jobs, family, friends in order to come to the UK to send a 5 year old child to a school here. Let’s be serious.

    • Andrew Jones

      I know my family tree back to my Grandmother and Grandfather. I am the only one in the family to have had a passport up until I left the Army. As none of my children or grandchildren have passports who do I see about getting them free of charge? Or is this another way to take our earned money off Us? Or is it just the English who need to do This?

  17. Yogananna

    I think it’s a perfectly reasonable request. Why shouldn’t the Government know exactly who it’s students are and where they were born. But as was said earlier, this should have been done when the child entered the education system in the first place.

    • Georgina

      I agree with you on that all counties including us should know who our students are. And the other point is the government are possibly aware of the language barrier also so to employ more teachers in this area with communication.

  18. I am really upset about this. I am certain such information is required when applying for a school place. There are all sorts of methods of registering this information which are already in place. I am astonished it is necessary to collect the information in this way.

    Its very naive if anyone believe this is just a coincidence following brexit. This is clearly a move to put pressure on minorities and a sign post from the government to make all parents consider the ‘entitlement of others’

    Its incitement of the populus to engage in a passive bullying. Its a truely horrible thing to do to children and families who already feel vulnerable.

  19. Rachel Leanna

    As a teacher, we have had to carry out this ‘survey’ (as it was called). What I find interesting is there are some students who speak English, whose home language is English, who class themselves as British, but who were born in Hong Kong, Nairobi, Frankfurt, Paris, Rotterdam, etc. Just because a person is born abroad does not automatically mean they don’t speak, use and comprehend high levels of English. Alternatively, I teach students who were born in the UK, raised by UK born and UK educated parents whose control, understanding and use of the English language ranks as a C or B on the 5 point scale (A = non-speaker; E = fluent with correct grammar and understanding of subtle and implied meaning). Surely, with these discrepancies, this, once again, is flawed data, which will be used inaccurately and for no real purpose.

  20. kenneth

    I think the schools are NOT telling the trueth that its optional.Why they need data?Who will have access to?And why NOW?This is very discriminative and can lead to serious consequences on basis of segregation if we want to build cohesion and integregation in our already badly affected society.

  21. I think its a bloody joke that anyone would come to the UK for ‘Education tourism’. And teachers are a bloody disgrace if they have any truck with this. And I say this as a Tory supporter but this is way out of order.