Parents are being urged not to disclose their child’s country of birth, or nationality in the 2016 school census.
A human rights group claims that such data could be used against families by Home Office immigration enforcement.
The schools census, which will be collected for the first time this year, will ask parents, guardians and carers for information about their children aged two to 19, including whether they are foreign nationals. Families can refuse to answer.
“In a post-Brexit environment, kids are already precarious; they are already feeling like it’s not a good thing to be a migrant child and this further divides them,” Gracie Mae Bradley, who set up the Against Borders for Children campaign to have the policy overturned, told The Guardian.
The Department for Education (DfE) has insisted the data is being collected and input to the national pupil database (NPD) to ensure children “receive the best possible education”.
However, disclosures under freedom of information laws, as seen by The Guardian, show the Home Office was handed NPD data in 2012.
Bradley wants to make parents aware it is not compulsory to give this information and has called on mums and dads to “join the national boycott”.
On Bradley’s website, she wrote: “We ask all parents, pupils and school staff to work together to stop the Government from collecting children’s nationality and country of birth information, as you are legally entitled to do.
“We are concerned that this data could be used by immigration enforcement to target individual children and families.
“If this information is collected, members of the public, journalists, government departments, and other organisations will also be able to access schools’ immigration numbers.
“With a huge rise in racist hate crime since the Brexit vote, we fear for the safety of schoolchildren nationwide.”
Bradley said if every parent in the country exercised their right to refuse, it would protect all undocumented children from any potential enforcement action.
With fears about pupils’ data being passed on, a Department for Education spokesperson told The Huffington Post UK: “Collecting this data will help ensure our children receive the best possible education. It will be used to help us better understand how children with, for example, English as an additional language perform in terms of their broader education, and to assess and monitor the scale and impact immigration may be having on the schools sector.
“Data on pupils’ country of birth, nationality and level of English proficiency is collected through the school census in line with the national population census. These data items will not be passed to the Home Office. They are solely for internal Department for Education use for analysis, statistics and research.”
For more information on the census and Bradley’s campaign, visit the website.