The National Pupil Database (NPD) is a longitudinal research database that provides invaluable evidence on educational performance to inform independent research, as well as studies commissioned by the Department.
The Department may legally share the NPD (or elements of it) with third parties, using powers set out in Section 537A of the Education Act 1997, and the Education (Individual Pupil Information) (Prescribed Persons) (England) Regulations 2009. Organisations requesting access under those powers must show how it will be used to promote pupils' education, through evidence or research.
In addition to the provisions within the Education Act 1997, in line with the Data Protection Act 1998 where the police or Home Office have clear evidence that a child may be at risk or evidence of criminal activity, limited data including a pupil’s address and school details may be requested from the NPD. This data does not include nationality or country of birth information. It is right that we share this data if it helps to keep a child safe from harm or to disrupt a crime.
The Department does not currently routinely publish all underlying data sharing agreements. Where interested parties have specifically requested access to data shares (e.g. under Freedom of Information) they have been provided, including the Memorandum of Understanding in place with the Home Office. As part of its commitment to transparency, the Department will soon be publishing a full overview of all routine personal level data sharing, including the Home Office data sharing. We plan to publish this in December.
The Department recognises that there is public interest in the volume of pupil records shared with the Home Office. That is why the forthcoming publication announced for December will include an update on the number of records being shared between the Department and the Home Office each month, providing open and equitable access to that information for all interested parties.