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Alternative Education

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL4236, tabled on 15 December 2017

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether data transferred from local authorities to the Department for Education (DfE) in the Alternative Provision census is named data; and if so, what regions in the UK such transfers to the DfE applies to; and why the transfer of such data to the DfE is considered to be necessary.

Answered on

22 December 2017

The alternative provision census is collected from local authorities on a statutory basis and, as such, does not require data providers to obtain written consent from parents or pupils to the provision of information.

However, being transparent and providing accessible information to individuals about how you will use their personal data is a key element of the Data Protection Act 1998 and the General Data Protection Regulation. The most common way to make this information available to data subjects is via a privacy notice.

The Department for Education (DfE) provides suggested wording for privacy notices that schools and local authorities may wish to use (attached) at: However, the suggested wording provided by DfE must be reviewed and amended to reflect local needs and circumstances – especially as schools and local authorities may collect data for their own purposes locally that is not required for the purposes of DfE specified data collections.

All data items collected via the alternative provision census are listed in Annex A which is attached.

Whilst it is not possible for a parent/carer or an individual child to opt out of the alternative provision census, there is certain information which is self-declared and is gathered on a voluntary basis. For the alternative provision census, this is the data items referring to pupil ethnicity and the service child in education indicator, where the provision of this information may be refused by the parent. All other data items are mandatory where they apply to a particular pupil.

The submission of the alternative provision census, including a named set of pupil records, is a statutory requirement on alternative provision providers under the Education (Information about Children in Alternative Provision) (England) Regulations 2007.

As such, the alternative provision census requires the return of individual pupil records for pupils attending a school not maintained by a local authority for whom an English local authority is paying full tuition fees, or educated otherwise than in schools and pupil referral units, under arrangements made (and funded) by an English local authority.

Where a child of compulsory school age would not receive suitable education because of illness, exclusion or for any other reason, local authorities have a duty to provide a suitable ‘alternative provision’. The alternative provision census is the department’s primary source of administrative data about such pupils and, as such, the information collected is fundamental to understanding the ongoing effectiveness of the alternative provision system in order to target, and evaluate, policy interventions to support these vulnerable children.