The government is to enable children’s data including information on their education, gender, ethnicity and eligibility for free school meals, to be accessible to researchers and third-party organisations.
The availability of the data comes after controversial plans for HM Revenue & Customs to sell taxpayers’ financial data to private organisations, and the much-criticised care.data programme in the NHS, which will see patient records anonymised and sold to research organisations and, potentially, companies.
The latest data to be available for extraction is information found on the national pupil database (NPD).
The data includes: test and exam results, prior attainment and progression at different key stages for pupils in the state sector; attainment data for students in ‘non-maintained’ special schools, sixth-form and further education colleges; and information on pupils in independent schools, where available.
The database also includes information about pupils’ characteristics including their gender, ethnicity and first language. Eligibility for free school meals, special education needs (SEN) and details on their absence and exclusions are also included.
Researchers and third-party organisations would need approval to gain access to this data, and the government states that organisations have to show that they will be using the data to promote the education or wellbeing of children in England by conducting research or analysis, producing statistics or providing information, advice or guidance.
There are different approval processes depending on the sensitivity and types of data extract being requested, it said.