Education (Information Sharing) Bill 2013

October 27th, 2013 by Peter Oldham QC

This private member’s bill is due for its second reading in the Commons on 29th November 2013. It was introduced by Andrew Selous MP, Conservative member for South West Bedfordshire. On his website he says that the aim of the Bill is to require or permit publication of:-

“information on which vocational qualifications, GCSEs and A levels lead to the highest and lowest earnings returns. It will mean that young people and their parents will get reliable information on which courses and qualifications are likely to lead to a job and higher earnings. Pupils, teachers and parents will be able to see the earnings premium between say doing a GCSE in chemistry as compared with one in additional science.

Schools, colleges and universities need the information the Bill will provide to assess their own effectiveness in creating routes to employment and good earnings. Critically they will really help young people and their parents to take much more informed decisions. I think this is a poverty reducing measure.

The Bill will also show the earnings potential of apprenticeships. At the moment only five per cent of students take an apprenticeship after their GCSEs and only three per cent after their A levels. I believe that this low take up is in quite large part because pupils and parents do not realize that apprenticeships are leading to some of the highest paid and most prestigious careers in the UK and abroad.”

The Bill has three operational clauses, each of them inserting a section into existing Education Acts.

Clause 1 adds a new section 253A to the Apprenticeships, Skill, Children and Learning Act 2009, allowing a person to provide “student information of a prescribed description” to the Secretary of State/Welsh Ministers, an information collator, a prescribed person, or a person falling within a prescribed category. “Student information” is information relating to an individual’s educational qualifications, but there is an express bar on the publication of information which identifies any individual. An “information collator” is defined as a body responsible for collating such information.

Clause 2 provides a new section 49B for the Further and Higher Education Act 1992. It allows SoS/Welsh Ministers to provide “destination information” to the governing body of an FE institution. “Destination information” means

“information which—
(a) relates to a former student of the institution, and
(b) includes information as to prescribed activities of the former student after leaving the institution.”

Again the information cannot identify an individual.

Clause 3 amends sections 87 and 91 of the Education and Skills Act 2008. Section 87 currently allows SoS and Welsh and Scottish Ministers to share education-related information for the purposes of certain education and training functions, but this (a) excludes information about higher education, and (b) cannot be used in connection with under 19 education functions. These limitations are removed.

Peter Oldham QC

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