Every Pupil To Be Numbered And Kept On A Government Database for Life

Image of male child in classroom with teacher leaning over and giving guidence

The exam results and personal details of every 14-year-old in England are to be put on an electronic database for the rest of their lives. Under Government plans to be unveiled today, each pupil will be assigned a unique number which they will keep even after they leave school.

Employers and colleges will be able to use this number to access students' records on the internet to check if they are telling the truth about their qualifications. It is hoped there will ultimately be a numbered database for every citizen aged over 14 years.

Last night, the Government denied the individual numbers would be linked to ID cards. But a furious coalition of teachers, parents, opposition MP's and human rights campaigners united to condemn the "Big Brother" policy. They pointed to the Government's abysmal track record on keeping data safe and warned the personal details of millions could be compromised.

The new database will be made up of Unique Learner Numbers (ULN) which work in the same way as the current Unique Pupil Number (UPN). The crucial difference, however, is that the UPN is discarded when the individual leaves school. The new ULN will not be and will let Government agencies track them until they retire. It will be compulsory for every 14-year-old to have one.

Margaret Morrisey, of the National Association of Parent Teacher Associations, said the plans would horrify parents. She Said:

"I suspect there will not be more than two parents in the land who would have faith in the Government that this information will be secure."

John Dunford, General Secretary of the Association for School and College Leaders, said:

"Given the track record of Government IT disasters and the possibility that all these children's record will end up in Iowa, this is a worry."

The new database will let students build up a record of exam results across their whole school career. It will be known as the MIAP, or Managing Information Across Partners, and will have two passwords. Students will have one password to access the records themselves and could give another to employers or colleges to have a restricted view of the records.

When the scheme was first proposed in 2003, education secretary Charles Clarke said the ULN could be cross-referenced with, or the same as, the number on individual ID cards. Critics say the move is part of a general trend towards the Government computerizing records and requiring departments to share information on ordinary citizens with each other.

Information Commissioner Richard Thomas is said to be satisfied with the security for the new database. But Shadow Schools Secretary Michael Gove said:

"The Government has a terrible track record in managing complex IT programmes. Recent events have shown that sensitive personal data is not safe in ministers' hands. "There must be profound worries not just in terms of civil liberties but also in terms of the security of young people with a project like this."

The Government is pressing ahead with the introduction of ULNs whilst awaiting the results of a security review into a separate planned database called ContactPoint, which would contain personal details of all 11million children in England. The ContactPoint review was ordered last year after HM Revenue and Customs lost two computers discs containing the personal details of 25million people.

A spokeswoman for MIAP, which comes under the jurisdiction of the Learning and Skills Council, said any plans to link the ULN to ID cards had been shelved.

A spokesman for the Department for Universities, Innovation and Skills said the aim of MIAP was to give students an online "record of achievement" they could show to universities or employers. He said:

"MIAP is supposed to be a simple record of learning which someone can use to apply to a higher education course or into the workplace. It is a record unique to them that makes all that information easily accessible. The learner will have control over what information is stored and how it will be used.

Original source from the Daily Mail 13th February 2008

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