Friday 30 December 2016

Upcoming Pupil Census raises vital issues for schools and parents

'Against Borders for Children' will be holding a conference on January 14th to discuss the government's use of the annual school census to create a 'hostile environment' for migrants by requesting birth and nationality information from parents.

This is a particular issue for Brent schools where many children are from a migrant background and where families, after Brexit and a rise in hostility, are anxious about the future.

ABC is a coalition of parents, teachers, schools and campaigners. This is what they say about their campaign:

Our aim is to reverse the Department of Education’s (DfE) policy, effective from September 2016, to collect country of birth and nationality information on 8 million children in England in order to ‘create a hostile environment’ for migrant children in schools.

This new immigration data will be collected through the School Census and then permanently stored on the National Pupil Database. These censuses happen every year and every academic term respectively. The next happens in Spring 2017.

Providing this data is optional and does not affect school funding.

This means parents and schools can legally work together to withhold this information from DfE.
Education officials have an agreement to share the personal details of up to 1,500 schoolchildren a month with the Home Office, The Guardian reports.

The agreement, which has been in place since June 2015, is outlined in a memorandum of understanding between the Department for Education (DfE) and the Home Office. This step is a diluted form of Theresa May’s 2015 stated goal of having schools check passports before accepting new pupils and withdrawing and deprioritising places for migrant children.

As well as using the data to target individual children and families, we are concerned that members of the public, journalists, government departments, and other organisations will also be able to access schools’ immigration numbers. With a huge rise in racist hate crime since the Brexit vote, we fear for the safety of schoolchildren nationwide.
So we are organising a national boycott until the Department of Education reverses this policy and commits to safeguarding children from the stigma of anti-immigrant rhetoric and the violence that accompanies it.

Update: The campaign has won a concession to exclude collecting nationality data in the Early Years census that concerns toddlers.

What you can do:

If you are a parent, you can learn more about how to protect your child’s data.
If you are a teacher, learn how you can get involved.
For more questions, please contact us.

Supporting organisations

Over 20 organisations signed our letter to Justine Greening, calling on the Secretary of State for Education to reverse the policy and to commit to protecting all children from stigma, xenophobia, and violence. They are:

ABC have published resources for parents and schools, including model letters refusing data, on their website HERE

The human rights organisation Liberty said:
Foreign worker lists? This is a foreign children list

It bears a striking resemblance to the Home Secretary’s recent suggestion that companies will be forced to reveal the number of non-UK workers they employ which was widely decried as toxic and xenophobic.

However, the schools policy goes even further, establishing a national register of non-national children linked to their name, address, and other sensitive personal data.

This register will be accessible by multiple third parties with opaque and minimal oversight.

Border controls in our classrooms

This is a dangerous expansion of border control powers into children’s school lives. We now know that Theresa May's Home Office had plans to 'deprioritise' children of illegal immigrants on lists for school places.

With high levels of hate crime reported since the Brexit referendum, measures such as these risk victimising children in schools, a place where they should feel free and safe to learn and grow – rather than be a source of information on their parents or a target for immigration enforcement.

Already there have been reports of non-white children being asked to produce immigration documents at school.
The National Union of Teachers has published advice for members and guidelines for a school policy on the issue that can be put to governing bodies HERE 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There's nothing like a good census of children at Christmas time, eh?

Mike Hine