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Schools: Census

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL4240, tabled on 19 December 2016

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what information was given to those completing the national school census regarding the sharing of details with the Home Office for immigration purposes.

Answered on

6 January 2017

The Department for Education (DfE) provide a privacy notice template[1] for schools to use to explain to parents what personal data they collect, why it is collected, who it is shared with and what it is used for. The template we provide to schools also gives parents access to further information about the Department’s use of their children’s data[2].

With regards to data sharing with the Home Office, a copy of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Home Office and the Department for Education, which covers the sharing of limited information between those parties, is available in the house library. This sharing does not include data relating to the nationality, country of birth and proficiency in English of pupils which is collected solely for Department for Education analysts to use for research. These data items have not, and will not, be shared by the Department for Education with other government departments.

Whilst it is not possible for a parent / guardian or an individual child to opt out of the school census collection, there is certain information (including ethnicity, first language, country of birth, nationality and whether a child is the child of someone in the Armed Services) which must always be as declared by the parent / guardian or the pupil. The school census guidance[3] is clear that the return of this information is voluntary and parents can withhold this information if they choose.


[1] Privacy notice template:

[2] DfE guidance for how we share data:

[3] School census data collection guide: