This year’s schools census has sneakily added something in, something which may at first seem relatively innocuous, but on closer inspection is very frightening indeed. This year’s schools census is collecting data on children’s country of birth.
In an environment where racist violence is on the rise, it is not safe for such identifiable information about children as young as 2 to be accessible to anyone. Schools census data has already been given to the Home Office (who could gleefully enact state violence on children and their families), or to police (who gleefully help out)… or even to right-wing newspapers like the Daily Telegraph. This is not a safe use of the data of already-vulnerable children, and can only expose these kids to further harm.
Already, this vicious data collection exercise has led to schools enacting racism. Some schools have targeted non-white children, ordering them to provide passport information. Not only is this jawdroppingly racist, but it’s horribly unnecessary: passport information or birth certificates aren’t necessary.
In fact, none of this exercise is compulsory in the slightest.
Schools are not obliged to supply this information, simply attempt to collect it. And parents and students are in no way obliged to provide this data.
The Against Borders for Children campaign is calling for families and schools alike to refuse to provide this information, and therefore protect children.
If you are a parent, or a school-age student, you can refuse to supply the information. This is your right, and there will be no punishment. Parents have until 5th October to inform schools that they will not be supplying the information, and the ABC campaign has a template letter you can use.
Even if your family has been in the UK since before Stonehenge went up, refuse to supply this information: your refusal to comply protects children who need protecting.
If you teach, you can make sure your students are aware of their rights, and work within your school to suggest that collecting this data is not prioritised. You can also raise these talking points with your colleagues.
If you’re working in collecting the data–for example, doing IT at a school–you can enter all the data as “not known”.
All of this is perfectly legal, and will not in any way affect your school’s funding.
And even if you are entirely, personally unaffected by this–I know I don’t have my own horse in this race!–you can still help protect children by raising awareness of this issue. Talk about it. Share leaflets. Write to your MP.
Make this attempt to push boundaries in collecting data on children the complete failure and embarrassment it deserves to me. No child is illegal, and racist harassment must stay out of our schools.