Pupils' school records to go online

LONDON (Reuters) - Pupils aged 14 to 19 are to have their school records permanently placed on an electronic database accessible to prospective employers.

Head teacher Chris Hassell teaches a class at Taylor Primary School in Leicester, August 29, 2002. Pupils aged 14 to 19 are to have their school records permanently placed on an electronic database accessible to prospective employers. REUTERS/Darren Staples

The scheme, based on a Unique Learner Number (ULN), will be used in English schools from September for pupils taking diplomas.

The record will include personal details and exam results and will remain with the pupil for life.

More than 40 partners, including the Learning and Skills Council, the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills and the Department for Work and Pensions are involved in the project, called Managing Information Across Partners (MIAP).

“The Unique Learner Number, necessary to acquire a learner record for the diploma is a unique identifier that can be used by a learner for life,” MIAP said on its Web site.

“It is a national number that is validated and is therefore deemed to be unique.”

The aim is to expand the system to include other information and to allow details already available but scattered across many databases to be brought together, it said.

The pupil would have control over the record and would be able to restrict the information shared.

It is envisaged that the information could be transferred if the pupil changes school, goes to college or applies for work, MIAP said.

“This will save a lot of effort for the learner in having to present this information to a prospective employer or a college,” it added.

Pupils currently have a Unique Pupil Number which is allocated by a school and used internally for administration purposes. It expires when the pupil leaves.

“At the moment both numbers will work alongside each other but it is quite likely that in the future the ULN would replace the UPN,” MIAP said.

Margaret Morrissey, spokeswoman for the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations, said: “From the point of view of parents and children hold on. Hold on to what is probably a good idea, but which raises concern about data protection.”

The ability of official bodies to keep personal data secure has been questioned by a spate of recent scandals.

In December, nine NHS trusts lost 168,000 patient records, while a month before, the details of 25 million child benefit claimants went missing. Information on three million learner drivers disappeared during that time.

Government plans for national identity cards have been criticised for their expense and so-called Big Brother infringement.

Reporting by Avril Ormsby