Parents, Pupils and Schools: Take Action to Retract Data! #BoycottSchoolCensus

Following the announcement last Summer that nationality and country-of-birth data must no longer be collected in the school census, we are calling for parents and pupils to take action to retract any previously collected data to resist the hostile environment.

The Department for Education scrapped the collection of this data in June 2018 following efforts by campaigners, parents and teachers. While the decision marked a major victory for campaigners, subsequent revelations show that national pupil data has been used for immigration enforcement purposes since 2015 – with a marked rise in data received by the Home Office following the census data collection that began in 2016.

Data previously collected is still being held on the National Pupil Database and handovers to the Home Office continue on a monthly basis – and while it does not appear that country-of-birth and nationality data is being transferred, parents and schoolchildren can take action now to retract this data submitted in the census between 2016-18.

We strongly encourage parents and pupils to object to the continued processing of data as we back calls for the Department for Education to take the following steps:

  1. The deletion of all pupil nationality and country of birth data collected and stored by DfE, as soon as possible
  2. The safeguarding of all pupil personal data collected through schools from Home Office requests for immigration enforcement purposes
  3. To revoke The Education (Pupil Information) (England) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2016

Parents & pupils, here’s how you can take action:

  1. Withdraw nationality and country-of-birth data collected between 2016-18:
    • Contact your school administrator in writing to demand that this data is not retained for your children at your school and that it is withdrawn from the Department for Education at national level and from other data transfers to Local Authorities or shared datasets
    • Follow up any correspondence with a request for written assurance that the data has been deleted

A template letter to to email or post to your school is available here and an additional form for your school administrator to complete can be found here. This second form is to ensure that requests to retract data will be sent to the Department for Education.

2. Help raise awareness of the right to request nationality and country of birth data removal from the 2016-18 school census collection: tag @Schools_ABC for a retweet – to help amplify our objections! #BoycottSchoolCensus #HostileEnvironment

3. Write to your MP supporting the above demands on the Department for Education to scrap the National Pupil Database.

Schools ABC and human rights organisation Liberty have lodged a complaint with the ICO about the retention of country of birth and nationality data and are expecting a response in the near-future.

How to show residency when the EU settled status automated checks don’t work

The Home Office report on the second phase of its EU Settlement Scheme pilot revealed this week that nearly one in five applicants did not receive sufficient evidence of UK residence from automated checks alone. Of the 27,000 decisions issued during Phase 2 of the scheme some 4,500 applicants for post-Brexit settled status were required to provide additional evidence of UK residence, with another 2,800 cases awaiting a decision.

These automated residency checks use the applicant’s National Insurance number to search government databases for existing records. The government says that the purpose of the checks is

…to make the process as simple as possible for the great majority of EU citizens, we will check employment and benefits records for proof of residence.

Where the automated checks of HMRC and DWP data do not indicate that the EU citizen has been continuously resident in the UK, or indicate that they have been continuously resident here for a period of less than five years, the applicant will then be able to upload documentary evidence of their continuous residence…

But the way the checks function in practice is, at best, obscure. What is certain is that they rely entirely on data held by government departments, some of which may be missing or incorrect.

EU citizens who do not have a full five years’ residence in the UK are not eligible for settled status, but are instead granted “pre-settled status”. The reported figures from the pilots do not distinguish between those who are granted pre-settled status simply because government systems do not hold sufficient data on their residence, and those who have actually been resident in the UK for less than five years.

Given the proportion of cases (10 out of 11) where pre-settled status has been upgraded to settled status following administrative review, and the additional cost and effort of challenging a decision, applicants may wish to check with HMRC and DWP before dealing with the Home Office, to see what data each department thinks it holds on them and correct it where necessary.

The Migration Observatory’s Unsettled Status study identifies significant groups of EU citizens who are at risk of failing to secure their rights under the Settlement Scheme. Reports from those assisting people undergoing the process indicate that vulnerable groups in particular can encounter difficulties in establishing residency. If you are helping applicants for settled status, the following may be useful.

The government acknowledges that the automated data checks are disproportionately likely to fail for people under 21, who will not have worked or received benefits in their own right for long enough to qualify, and for older people in long-term care. For this reason, the list of additional documents that applicants can provide if the automated checks fail includes:

letter or certificate from your school, college, university or other accredited educational or training organisation showing the dates you enrolled, attended and completed your course.


letter from a registered care home confirming your residence there.

In researching the EU Settlement Scheme it became clear that no template letter has been provided by the Home Office for people in these categories, so we offer these two templates which anyone is free to use:

Once filled in by the school or care home, and returned to the applicant, the applicant can log in to the Settlement Scheme website and upload a digital copy of the letter along with any other evidence of residency.

Changes to the scheme are being made on the basis of what has been learned from the pilots. In the last week, the government has added another document to the list:

employer letter confirming employment and evidence that the employer is genuine, for example, their Companies House number.

The excellent Carter Thomas Solicitors have drawn up an employer template letter. Again, this can be filled in by the employer, returned to the applicant and uploaded as proof of residency.

For those wanting more detail, I have also written an analysis of the EU Settlement Scheme application process – based on published materials, official statements, and conversations with those assisting or affected by the scheme – which asks questions that will need to be answered if the scheme is to be fair, impartial and supportive of vulnerable people.

Phil Booth

This piece was originally posted on and is republished here with kind permission.