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Government wants every English child on 'secure' database

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The government will announce plans tomorrow to give every English child an identifying number and a database entry of their school qualifications.

The idea, if that's not too strong a word, is that the database will include a mini-CV which employers will be able to check.

Every child of 14 will get a Unique Learning Number, different from the Unique Pupil Number which is deleted when you leave school, and different from the national ID database. This number will allow them to access the online database, known as managing Information Across Partners (MIAP). Potential employers will get a different password giving them limited access to a person's record.

The government is supposed to be in the middle of reviewing the security of all the data it keeps on UK citizens, but the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills was unable to tell us what impact this review has had or might have on the thinking behind the database. Most of the information on the database is already held somewhere, but not in one place.

Minister for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education Bill Rammell said in a statement: "Protection of an individual's data will be given the highest priority. MIAP will allow each learner to build up a record of the skills they have gained and the learning they have achieved. Importantly, it is being developed in response to learners' concerns about ease of access to information when they look to move courses or start a new stage of learning."

"MIAP is a learner's record and as such the learner will have control over how the information stored is used.”

Terri Dowty, director of Action on Rights for Children, said: "I'm a little puzzled by the fuss over this. We've had Individual Learner Records for five or six years, and as databases go there are 20 or so other databases for children many of which are worse. There are big questions over security and function creep, and of course at rock bottom it is a question of whether we can trust this government with any of our personal data."

Dowty added that such a database could be useful, but whether it should be a priority when so many other services for children are suffering major budget cuts was another question.

The new database will cost £45m.

The DIUS sent us the following statement on costs: "Over the six year period 2006-2012, the total investment in developing the Managing Information Across Partners (MIAP) services will be around £45m.

These services are: a Learner Registration Service, a UK Register of Learning Providers - which also links to other information about learning providers - and the creation of Learner Records.

By the end of the second year of full operation of the initial services (2012), it is projected that the programme will have realised efficiency and administrative savings equivalent to or greater than the costs of development and operation."

The plan is to roll out the database in England and "possibly Wales later on".

There's more on the MIAP website. ®

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