Opposition to a database of where children are outside school hours

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008. 8:18am

Dear County Councillor Moss Eccardt, (Copied to the School)

I have just read on the Cambridge Evening News website that:

“Alison Evans, of Great and Little Shelford Primary School, has come under fire for her plan to build the database which would detail where children are outside school hours in a bid to stop them walking alone to and from school. … Cambridgeshire County Council confirmed the plans for a database.” (http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/cn%5Fnews%5Fhome/DisplayArticle.asp?ID=260444)

I believe this represents the state invading far to far into individuals’ lives.

Discouraging children aged 10-11 from walking to school alone is not in my view good for society, and should be a decision left to parents, there should be no discouragement from the School, County Council or State.

I believe good class teachers at this level ought to have a reasonable idea, in as much detail as they think they need, of where their pupils are after school and how they get to school, and to wherever they are going after school. Keeping written or computerised notes relating to this would in my view be reasonable however it appears from the article the proposed database goes well beyond this.

If the county council were to consider operating such a database as described in the CEN article I believe you should ask questions about how long the data is to be kept for, who it is shared with, which other databases it will be possible to cross reference entries on this database with and many more. I feel it would be clearly impossible to keep a database of: “where children are outside school hours” accurate and comprehensive. Do we want the young people of this county growing up in a “big brother”, database state?

Like the issuing of laptops to pupils which I wrote to you about in November I do not think this kind of decision should be being made by individual schools, especially against the wishes of the parents, to me this is clearly an area for elected representatives on the county council to set boundaries on, within which schools and governing bodies can operate.

Richard Taylor

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