The Department may legally share data from the National Pupil Database 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.
As part of the approvals process, officials, including legal experts and senior civil servants with data expertise, assess the application for public benefit, proportionality (ensuring the minimum amount of data is used to meet the purpose), legal underpinning, and that the strict information security standards we enforce have been satisfied.
The purpose of the request by the Daily Telegraph was to provide more detailed information for parents about the relative achievements of different schools in a range of subjects for different types of pupils. This request did not contain any data items that are sensitive or have potential to allow children to be identified. It did not contain key identifiers of name, address, postcode, date of birth or reference numbers.
The purpose of the request from BBC Newsnight was to assess progress in reducing geographical, social and economic disparities in education performance. This request contained some sensitive data items (language, ethnicity, primary special educational needs type, and indicators of looked after status or service child status). It did not contain key identifiers of name, address, postcode, date of birth or reference numbers.
The Department does not maintain records of the number of children included in historic data extracts.