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Darren asks the Department of Education about children’s data privacy rights

Darren asked:

What guidance and advice her Department plans to provide for data subjects and their parents on the alternative provision collection of pregnancy, health and mental health data from January 2018; and with and to whom those data will be shared and made accessible?

Nick Gibb MP, Minister of State for Schools, replied:

Where a child of compulsory school age would not receive suitable education because of illness, exclusion or any other reason, local authorities have a duty to provide suitable ‘alternative provision’ (AP). Although the AP provider understands the reason for the child’s placement, as does the responsible local authority, nationally very little is known about these AP placements and the children who need them. This is fundamental to understanding the effectiveness of the AP system to better target policy interventions and improve the quality of education provided to these children.

As data controllers in their own right, it is important that local authorities and AP providers collect, process and store all data (not just that collected for the purposes of the Department data collections) in accordance with the relevant data protection regulations. Being transparent and providing accessible information to individuals about how their personal data will be used is a key element of both the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) and the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The most common way to provide this information is via a privacy notice. The Department provides template privacy notices that schools and local authorities can use. However, the notices must be reviewed and amended according to local needs and circumstances. The AP census guidance reminds data providers of their responsibilities in this area and provides links to the template notices.

Darren also asked:

Whether her Department conducted a privacy impact assessment about the collection of data on pregnancy, health and mental health for the Alternative Provision Census 2018?

Nick Gibb MP replied:

Where a child of compulsory school age would not receive suitable education because of illness, exclusion or any other reason, local authorities have a duty to provide suitable ‘alternative provision’ (AP). Although the AP provider understands the reason for the child’s placement, as does the responsible local authority, nationally very little is known about these AP placements and the children who need them. This is fundamental to understanding the effectiveness of the AP system to better target policy interventions and improve the quality of education provided to these children.

Conducting a privacy impact assessment is not a legal requirement of the Data Protection Act. The changes to the AP census relate to information already required (and held) by local authorities during the process of commissioning placements in AP and do not require the collection of any additional information by local authorities or AP providers from the individuals. The AP census is a long-standing data collection with established protocols and processes in place for the handling, collection and disclosure of individual level information. As the AP census already collects a range of characteristic information about individuals, these additional items of information (about the same individuals) do not present any new privacy risks over and above those already present so a formal privacy impact assessment was not completed.

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Darren receives response from HMRC on childcare vouchers fiasco

Darren has received a response from HMRC after he raised concerns about problems parents were having applying to governments’ new 30-hours free childcare. With the website crashing and problems with HMRC’s own phone line, parents were finding it difficult to apply before the 31st August deadline. Darren challenged this with HMRC direct.

The response from John Harrison, Chief Executive of HMRC told Darren “where parents have experienced persistent technical difficulties and the 31st deadline, we provided them with a 30 hours free childcare code manually. We continued to issue these codes into early September so that those parents who applied before 31st August, but were unable to speak to us before the deadline, could get a code”.

In response to the letter Darren said:

“Whilst it is good news that parents who were not issued a code by 31st August, because of faults with the HMRC website, can use codes sent to them in September, I still have widespread concerns about the government’s flagship childcare scheme.  Parents are struggling to make the 30 hours per week childcare (over 38 weeks of the year) support their year-round, and often full time, employment. It has also been widely publicised that the cost of childcare is rising far above increases in earnings. To strengthen our economy, we need a childcare system that supports working families, I will continue to raise these issues with government. Just today a new study by Admiral Loans has found Bristol parents are hit the hardest of any city when childcare costs are considered against average earnings –  costs account for a staggering 55% of average earnings – this is unacceptable and certainly not a sustainable situation for working families”.

 

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Darren asks the Department for Education about pupil data protection

The National Pupil Database is a database containing school children’s personal details.

Darren asked the Department for Education:

Whether any data extracted from the national pupil database has been transferred from an approved third-party organisation to any other organisation

and

How much income her Department derived from allowing third-party organisations to access the national pupil database.

It is perhaps worrying that the government has failed to say to whom and for how much money they have sold our children’s personal details to.

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Government fails to guarantee post-Brexit Erasmus funding after Darren asks them to

Darren asked the Department of Education:

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether reciprocal funding for Erasmus students will continue after the UK leaves the EU?

Jo Johnson MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science, replied:

The Government is considering future participation in Erasmus as part of the European Union (EU) Exit negotiations. We see future co-operation in education programmes (as with research) as an area of mutual benefit to both the UK and the EU, provided we can agree a fair ongoing contribution.

There is, of course, a range of wider international mobility activity supported by organisations such as the British Council, UK and others. The Government has made clear many times that it values the Erasmus+ programme and international exchanges more generally and has stated publicly that the UK is committed to continuing full participation in the Erasmus+ Programme up until we leave the EU.

We will underwrite successful bids for Erasmus+, which are submitted while the UK is still a Member State, even if they are not approved until after we leave, and/or payments continue beyond the point of Exit.

It is clear that his answer could be summarised as ‘not sure’; scarcely reassurance to British and European students looking to benefit from UK Erasmus participation in the future.

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Darren challenges the Department of Education on childcare

Darren asked the Secretary of State for Education:

Whether the Government has made an estimate of the number of work hours for which people cannot work on account of free childcare not being available for a full week of 37.5 hours and during school holidays?

Robert Goodwill MP, Minister of State For Children and Families, answered with the following:

We are increasing support to working parents by doubling the free childcare entitlement from 15 to 30 hours per week from September 2017. The introduction of 30 hours’ free childcare aims to make childcare more affordable and to enable parents to work, or to work more if they choose to do so.

The department knows that parents’ working patterns vary significantly and we are working closely with local authorities and providers to ensure that the 30 hours’ free childcare entitlement delivers high quality and flexible childcare that meets parents’ needs.

Our statutory guidance makes clear that parents can stretch their entitlement over more than 38 weeks of the year, enabling them to take it up during the term time and the school holidays.

By failing to specify whether or not they have estimated the amount of work hours lost due to their childcare policy when specifically asked if they have, the government raises the suspicion that they have not.

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Labour MP Calls for Long-Term Library Solution

To ensure a representative submission to Bristol City Council, Bristol North West’s Labour MP, Darren Jones, held a Libraries Conference on 2nd September to bring together local councillors, campaign groups and representative of the area’s nine Libraries.
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Austerity and Public Services

I have been encouraged by how many constituents are actively engaged in the Bristol City Council Your Neighbourhood Consultation . Local events have been well attended with passionate views shared on the need to provide services that support residents across the city. The council needs to save £4.7million over the next three years, due to severe and ongoing cuts from central Government and the council’s legal requirement to set a balanced budget. The current proposals, which asked for views on libraries, school crossings, public toilets, Community Links and Neighbourhood Partnerships is of real concern to all of us. We all know the huge benefits that community facilities have, libraries in particular, in giving children and families access to learning and providing safe and free spaces for people of all ages to use and enjoy. I am also aware of the rising threat of social isolation and the role libraries have in supporting the most vulnerable in our communities. At the time of writing, I’m organising a libraries conference for representatives from each library in the area, alongside local campaign groups, to contribute to my own submission to the consultation. I am keen that as a group we work together to get the best deal for communities right across Bristol North West.

But it’s not just council services under threat. Southmead hospital, GP surgeries, children’s centres, schools, community and advice centres and so many more are crippling under the stress of Government cuts to public services. I’m busy meeting as many people and organisations as I can to see first-hand what this means to local people, and I’ll be raising this loudly in Parliament after Recess.

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Darren Jones MP Meets New Regional Mayor

The newest of Bristol’s Members of Parliament, Darren Jones, has yesterday (7th August) met with the first West of England Combined Authority Regional Mayor, Tim Bowles.

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