IT services firm LogicaCMG will build a government database tracking the exam results of every teenager from the age of 14 onwards.
The new database, which was officially unveiled today, is part of the £45m Managing Information Across Partners scheme, a shared services initiative that has the stated aim of providing better services to students, academic institutions, examining bodies, government agencies and employers. LogicaCMG is already the infrastructure provider to the Learning and Skills Council, which is running the MIAP scheme.
Planning for MIAP kicked off in 2002, establishing a data sharing framework. In 2006, common data definitions were set in order to facilitate information sharing, and tests began on the learner registration service. On 3 September 2007, the registration service went live.
For the database, the government will create a ‘learner record’ and a unique number for each student, containing personal details and a record of grades achieved. 135,000 students have received their unique number so far, and those numbers will be used in the learner records from the 2008 academic year. The information will be available to employers and government agencies, and will also be used as part of the diplomas scheme that is an alternative to GCSE and A-level exams.
Graham Jones, chairman of the Information Authority, an independent body that regulates data and collection standards for further education organisations, said: “We are confident that we shall have the whole of the sector with us as we untangle some of the complexities of systems which have grown unwieldy over time.”
News of the student database broke before the official launch, and prompted widespread speculation over potential security risks to the database. A review is currently taking place over another database, called ContactPoint, which is planned to contain the personal details of all children in England. That review was commissioned after HM Revenue & Customs lost 25 million child benefit records.
The No2ID campaign, which is centred around campaigning against any introduction of ID cards, reacted by saying that it was concerned that children’s expulsions or exclusions from activities at school would be recorded, resulting in a lifetime “black mark” against their name.
Phil Booth, national coordinator at the campaign, said: “Without any warning and with the National ID Scheme on the rocks, yet another dodgy database is being proposed as the cure for all ills.”
But the government has insisted that school expulsions will be recorded on the system. David Russell, national director of resources at the Learning and Skills Council, said: “It is not a tracking system and will not include information on exclusions or expulsions. It will only hold factual information such as name, surname, age, postcode, qualifications achieved and courses attended.”
The new system would simplify the way this data was collected and shared, the government said, and would not mean any new data was being collected. It added that students would be able to “access and control” the information in their records.
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