Archive for November, 2016

Letter to the headmistress of the school my children attend

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

Dear Miss N....,

Thank you for your letter of the 28th of November regarding the Department for Education census. We are writing to let you know that we are declining to provide the countries of birth and nationalities of our children, and we have told our children to decline to provide this information to members of staff if asked. Please fill out this information as “Declined to provide” on the form, and feel free to pass on this letter by way of further explanation if this would be helpful. If our refusal to provide this information causes a penalty for the school (financial or otherwise) please let us know.

Our understanding is that, although schools are obliged to ask for this information, parents and pupils are under no obligation to provide it. Your letter suggested otherwise – if there is now a requirement on parents please let us know the details.

We understand that the Department for Education has given assurances that pupil nationality information will not be passed to the home office. However, given the recent resurgence of far-right politics in this country, we are concerned that this data could in the future be used to co-opt schools into becoming border enforcement units. It is our opinion that the surest method of avoiding this is for everyone to decline to provide this information.

On general principle, we believe that institutions in the public sector (including schools) should not have access to personal information except in cases where that information is necessary for the institution to accomplish its mission. We do not believe that any educational purpose is furthered by the school or the Department for Education having access to nationality or country of birth information. The Department for Education has stated that this information is useful for tracking progress of pupils for whom English is a second language. To this end, we have agreed that the Department of Education may be informed that English is the first language of both of our children.

Thank you for your understanding.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew & Genevieve Jenner