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Getting to grips with the National Pupil Database; personal data in an open data world


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The National Pupil Database monitors over 400 variables, covering every year of a child’s education from nursery to A-levels. Anyone who attended a state schoolin England since 1997 is included; data is taken automatically from school systems and is never deleted. The data is currently used to support decision-making, statistical analysis, targeted funding, performance monitoring and educational research.The government now proposes to 'widen access' to the NPD, making information it contains available to a range of of organisations including commercial enterprises and the media. Can such personal data be treated as open data? Phil Booth, former national coordinator of NO2ID and co-director of TRUTH2POWER, and Terri Dowty, former director of Action on Rights for Children and also a director of TRUTH2POWER will introduce you to the database, what data is collected and why everyone needs to know how it operates.

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Getting to grips with the National Pupil Database; personal data in an open data world

  1. 1. Getting to grips with the National Pupil Database; personal data in an Open Data worldPhil Booth and Terri Dowty | Open Data Institute Friday Lunchtime Lectures |15 Feb 2013
  2. 2. personal data ≠ open data
  3. 3. NPD: legislative underpinning• Education Act ‘96 power to collect ‘school level’ data• Amended by Schedule 30 School Standards and Framework Act 1998• Created statutory gateway to collect personal data about pupils• Empowered secretary of state to define data in regulations
  4. 4. NPD: 2• No consent required - head teachers under duty to supply information• Data taken directly from school MIS• Initially parents/children unaware - FPNs
  5. 5. Function Creep• Original school census annual (PLASC)• Now taken each term• Includes pre-school providers• Incremental increase in personal data• Exclusions and attendance data, poverty markers, mode of travel to school... The gift that keeps on giving?
  6. 6. NPD data tables
  7. 7. NPD request and data flows TIER 1 DfE Data Individual pupil level: Management identifying and/or identifiable and highly sensitive Advisory Panel (DMAP) TIER 2 Individual pupil level: identifiable and sensitive, e.g. ‘recoded’ ethnicity, SEN, FSMREQUEST DfE Data TIER 3 and Statistics Aggregate school level: Division identifiable and sensitive, DATA could have single counts (DSD) TIER 4 Individual pupil level: identifiable, e.g. gender, attainment, absences Diagram based on NPD user guide and protocol, July 2012
  8. 8. DfE consultation: ‘widen access’ to NPD
  9. 9. educators the voluntary sector “Data would only be released to organisations which had beenprofit-driven through a robust approval process political parties enterprises and in accordance with strict terms and candidates and conditions on data security, handling and use.”education publishers professional bodies and developers “We will achieve this through making people with direct information from the National Pupil grudges marketers Database available to all (with appropriate safeguards in place so individual pupils cannot be researchers the media identified), and developing a new School Performance Data Portal.” bullies consultants
  10. 10. re-identification• relatively easy outside urban areas when combined with ward-level stats• e.g. ethnicity + sector postcode narrow down to handful of families (at most)• + school year group can id individual child
  11. 11. ‘anonymisation’• de-identification• pseudonymisation• “effectively anonymised”?• aggregate data / statistics• ‘Differential Privacy’…
  12. 12. identifying people
  13. 13. re-identifying people NAFIS IDENT1 NDNAD GCSE + A LEVEL
  14. 14. • personal data ≠ open data• obfuscation vs. consent• (notification ≠ knowledge)• ‘anonymisation’ vs. utility
  15. 15. thanks for listening Phil Booth Terri Dowty