Data Sharing Children’s Database Wales

This page is a follow up to my page about how the new database proposals for Wales are an attempt to get round the privacy and over-reach objections to the earlier plans,  https://edyourself.org/2024-wales-database-compared-with-2020/. Further down this page the 2024 draft Regulations appear in black while the 2020 draft Regulations are in red because having them on a single page to compare is easier than having to juggle multiple pdfs.

At the end of January 2024 the Welsh government set out plans for each local authority in Wales to “establish and operate a CME database.” The 2024 Children Missing Education Database revives and reworks an earlier plan from 2020 for a Children Education Database. My introductory page on the database proposals is here https://edyourself.org/wales-cme-database-consultation/ and there are further links at the end of the page. There is a public consultation running till 25.4.24.

The 2024 database will require Local Health Boards to pass on less information than in 2020 but family doctors [GMC contractors] will also be required to share information directly with the LA. This is new and was not the case in 2020.

The local authority will get lists of all the school age children in the area from health boards and from family doctors but most of the data shared will not be used for the database. This is new and contrasts with 2020 where all the information disclosed was “for inclusion on the database” and raises the question of what will happen to the lists.

The consultation doesn’t say whether the local authority can use the list for other purposes such as finding out the GP practice where a child is registered or seeing which children appear not to be registered with a GP. Currently there appears nothing to prevent this happening. All the detail about security and access relates to the database and not to the original lists from health.

The proposals as currently drafted will have a significant impact on home educated children already known to the local authority, read more here https://edyourself.org/wales-database-impact-children-already-known/ and here https://edyourself.org/limit-of-cme-law-wales/

Required and Permitted Disclosure

There also appears nothing to stop LAs going back to GPs asking for extra information. As explained here, the law behind all of this, section 29 of the Children Act 2004, makes a distinction between information which is required to be disclosed and information which is permitted ie allowed to be disclosed.

At present the Welsh government is only talking about information which is required to be disclosed and is clearly trying to make it sound very minimal, but once section 29 comes into force, LAs will legitimately be able to chase up queries with “local authority partners” for parents’ email and telephone numbers on the grounds that data sharing is now permitted. Section 29(11) gives the government power to make regulations allowing information to be shared “notwithstanding any rule of common law which prohibits or restricts the disclosure of information”

Both the 2020 regulations and the 2024 regulations have what is called a Schedule of Information to be included in the database. The list of information required for the 2024 Schedule is shorter than in 2020 but new requirements have been added in 2024 that did not appear in 2020. For example, more contact details are required for the child’s parents – “address and postcode, telephone number and email address” as opposed to “name and contact details“. The following new item has also been added – “The name and address of the person providing all or part of the education“. It is not clear whether just one person’s name and address is required or whether it means the names and addresses of other people such as family members or tutors involved in the child’s education.

The other new information required for the database is “any additional learning needs that the child may have and any additional learning provision that is called for.” Again this is not clear. Does it mean the LA only needs to record ALN on the database if an ALN assessment has already been carried out or will LAs be asking partners such as LHBs and GPs for information about learning difficulties and disabilities? The Integrated Impact Assessment suggests that the CME database will result in LAs spending more money on ALN assessments and Additional Learning Provision.

Finally, the 2024 database is made under Welsh law but will affect children on the database who move to England because the original local authority in Wales must inform the new LA in England “of the child’s CME record”. This is new and was not the case in 2020. Read more about the 2019-20 guidance and database activity here https://edyourself.org/new-home-education-guidance-wales-may-2023/#background The 2020 government database consultation response can be read here

Database Title Page

2024 Title, commencement and application
1. (1) The title of these Regulations is the Children
Act 2004 (Children Missing Education Database)
(Wales) Regulations 202X.
(2) These Regulations come into force on XX.
(3) These Regulations apply in relation to Wales.

2020 Title, commencement and application
1. (1)The title of these Regulations is the Children
Act 2004 Education Database (Wales) Regulations
(Wales) Regulations 2020.
(2) These Regulations come into force on XX.
(3) These Regulations apply in relation to the
establishment and operation of a database under
section 29 of the Children Act 2004.

Database Definitions

2024 Interpretation
2.—(1) In these Regulations—
“the 1996 Act” (“Deddf 1996”) means the
Education Act 1996;
“the 2018 Act” (“Deddf 2018”) means the
Additional Learning Needs and Education
Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018;
“additional learning needs” (“anghenion dysgu
ychwanegol”
) has the same meaning as in section
2 of the 2018 Act;
“additional learning provision” (“darpariaeth
ddysgu ychwanegol”
) has the same meaning as in
section 3 of the 2018 Act;
“child” (“plentyn”) means a person of compulsory
school age within the meaning of section 8 of the
1996 Act;

“CME” (“PCA”) means children missing education
“the CME database” (“y gronfa ddata PCA”)
means the database established and operated, or to
be established and operated by a local authority
under section 29 of the Children Act 2004;
“CME record” (“cofnod PCA”) in relation to a
child means the information relating to that child
contained in the CME database;
“GMS contract” (“contract GMC”) means a
general medical services contract under section 42
of the National Health Service (Wales) Act
2006 (general medical services contracts:
introductory);
“GMS contractor” (“contractwr GMC”) means a
party to a GMS contract, other than the Local
Health Board;

“local authority” (“awdurdod lleol”) means the
council of a county or county borough in Wales,
except where specific reference is made to a local
authority in England;

“parent” (“rhiant”) means any person with
parental responsibility for the child (within the
meaning of section 3 of the Children Act 1989)
or who has care of the child at any time;
“registered pupil” (“disgybl cofrestredig”) means a
child registered as a pupil at a school in a register
kept under section 434 of the 1996 Act;
“school” (“ysgol”) has the same meaning as in
section 4 of the 1996 Act;
“suitable education” (“addysg addas”) has the
same meaning as in section 436A(3) of the 1996
Act;
“usually resident” (“preswylio fel arfer”) has the
same meaning as in regulation 2(2) and (3) of the
Local Health Boards (Directed Functions) (Wales)
Regulations 2009.
(2) In these Regulations any reference to a person
employed includes a person employed whether under a
contract of service or a contract for services, and a
person seconded to the local authority in question.

2020 Interpretation
2.—(1) In these Regulations—
“the Act” means the Children Act 2004;
“archived information” is to be construed in
accordance with regulation X;

“education record” in relation to a child (including
a child who is not ordinarily resident in the local
authority’s area or who has died) means the
information contained in the database relating to
that child;
“the database” means the database established and
operated, or to be established and operated by a
local authority under section 29 of the Act;
“local authority” means a local authority in
Wales;

“local health board” means a local health board
established under the National Health Service
(Wales) Act 2006;
“parental responsibility” has the same meaning as
in section 3 of the Children Act 1989.

(2) In these Regulations any reference to an
education record for which a local authority is
responsible means an education record for which by
virtue of regulation 3 the authority is responsible, and
references to a local authority being responsible for
education records are to be construed accordingly.
(3) In these Regulations any reference to a person
employed includes a person employed whether under a
contract of service or a contract for services, a person
seconded to the local authority in question and
references to an employee are to be construed
accordingly.
(4) In these Regulations a person—
(a) is not to be treated as having care of another
person;
(b) by reason only of the fact that (a) acts as a
child minder to (b) or provide day care to (b)
for part of the day only.

Database Conditions

2024 Establishment of CME database
3.—(1) A local authority must establish and operate
a CME database.
(2) Where the conditions in paragraph (3) are met in
relation to a particular child the CME database must
include the information set out in the Schedule that is
available to the local authority in relation to that child.
(3) The conditions are that—
(a) the child is ordinarily resident in the local
authority’s area,
(b) the child is not a registered pupil, and
(c) it appears to the local authority that the child
is not, or may not be, receiving a suitable
education.

2020 Establishment of database
3.—(1) Each local authority must establish a
database containing such information of the
descriptions specified in the Schedule relating to each
child who is ordinarily resident in that local authority’s
area.
(2) The database may contain information about a
child who is no longer ordinarily resident in that local
authority area or who has died.

Duty to Disclose Information

2024 Local Health Board and GMS contractor duty to
disclose

4. A Local Health Board and GMS contractor must
disclose to a local authority, within a period of 28 days
beginning with 1 February each year, the information
specified in paragraphs 1 to 4 of the Schedule
that is
held by it and relating to a child who is usually
resident in that local authority’s area.

2020 Disclosure of information for inclusion in a
database

5.—(1) A local health board must disclose to each
local authority for inclusion in the database at such
times as the Welsh Ministers may specify such of the
information specified in the Schedule relating to a
child who is ordinarily resident in that local authority’s
area as is available to the local health board or
independent school (as the case may be).
(2) When any information disclosed for inclusion in
the database pursuant to paragraph 1 is superseded by
new information, the local health board or independent
school must disclose that new information for
inclusion in the database.

Ensuring Accuracy

2024 Procedure for ensuring the accuracy of information
in the CME database

5. Where it appears to a local authority that a CME
record for which it is responsible is, or may be
inaccurate or incomplete, the local authority must take
reasonable steps to correct the inaccuracy or to
complete the record.

2020 Procedure for ensuring the accuracy of information
in the database

6.—(1) A local health board which discloses
information for inclusion in the database must take
reasonable steps to ensure the information is accurate.

(2) Where it appears to a local authority that an
education record for which it is responsible is or may
be inaccurate or incomplete, the authority must take
reasonable steps to correct the inaccuracy or to
complete the record.

Child Moving Out Of Area

2024 Procedure for removal of a CME record
6. Where a local authority becomes aware that a
child whose name is included in the CME database
has, or is likely to become ordinarily resident in the
area of another local authority or a local authority in
England
(“the receiving local authority”) it must—
(a) inform the receiving local authority of the
child’s CME record within 28 days of the date
that it became aware, and
(b) remove that child’s CME record from the
CME database as soon as reasonably
practicable after the child has left its area.

2024 7. Where a local authority becomes aware that a
child whose name is included in the CME database has
left its area and it does not know where the child has
become ordinarily resident, the local authority must
remove that child’s CME record from the CME
database as soon as is reasonably practicable.

2020 Participation by local authorities
4.—(1) A local authority must participate in the
operation of a database in accordance with these
Regulations.
(2) If a local authority becomes aware that a child
has, or is likely to become ordinarily resident in
another local authority (“the receiving local authority”)
it must transfer that child’s education record to the
receiving local authority within 28 days of the date that
it became aware of those circumstances.
(3) A local authority is responsible for any education
record, responsibility for which is accepted by the
authority with the agreement of the local authority
which previously had responsibility for that education
record.

Deleting Database Entries

2024 8. Where a local authority becomes aware that a
child whose name is included in the CME database has
become a registered pupil, the local authority must
remove that child’s CME record from the CME
database as soon as is reasonably practicable.

2024 9. Where a local authority is satisfied that a child
whose name is included in the CME database is
receiving a suitable education
, the local authority must
remove that child’s CME record from the CME
database
as soon as is reasonably practicable.

2024 10. Where a local authority becomes aware that a
child whose name is included in the CME database has
died, the local authority must remove that child’s CME
record from the CME database
as soon as is reasonably
practicable.

2024 11. Where a local authority becomes aware that a
child whose name is included in the CME database
ceases to be of compulsory school age, the local
authority must remove that child’s CME record from
the CME database
as soon as is reasonably practicable.

2020 Retention of information
7. Information disclosed for information inclusion in
the database under these Regulations may be retained
for 6 years from the date on which it becomes archived
information.

Archived information
8.(1) Subject to paragraph X and so far as it is not
already archived information, information in an
education record becomes archived information on the
earliest of the dates specified in paragraph 2.
(2) The dates are—
(a) the date on which the child attained the age of
16;
(b) a person who ceases to be ordinarily resident
in the local authority’s area, the date on which
the local authority responsible for the child
becomes aware that the child is no longer
ordinarily resident in its area and it is unlikely
the child will resume ordinarily resident in its
area within 3 years from that date; and
(c) for a person who has died, the first
anniversary of that child’s death.

Database Access

2024 Access to the CME database
12.—(1) Only a person employed in relation to the
exercise by, or on behalf of a local authority of the
functions specified in paragraph (2) may have access
to the CME database for the purpose of adding or
reading information.
(2) The functions referred to in paragraph (1) are
functions under—
(a) Part 6 (school admissions, attendance and
charges) of the 1996 Act,
(b) section 175 of the Education Act 2002(1)
(duties of local authorities and governing
bodies in relation to welfare of children), or
(c) Part 2 (additional learning needs) of the 2018
Act.

2020 Access to the database
9.—(1) Only a person employed in relation to the
exercise by, or on behalf of a local authority of the
functions specified in paragraph 2 may have access to
the database for the purpose of adding or reading
information.
(2) The functions referred to in paragraph 1 are—
(a) functions under—
(i) Part 6 (school admissions attendance and
charges) of the Education Act 1996.
(ii) Section 175 of the Education Act 2002
(duties of local authorities and governing
bodies in relation to welfare of children).
(iii) Part 3 (additional learning needs) of the
Additional Learning Need and Education
Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018, and

Schedule of Information

2024 SCHEDULE Regulations 3 and 4
Information to be included in the CME
database

1. The child’s name (including any former name).
2. The child’s address (or last known address)
including postcode.
3. The child’s date of birth.
4. The child’s gender or if the child’s gender has not
been specified a statement to that effect.
5. The name, address and postcode, telephone
number and email address
of all parents of the child.
6. The name and address of the person providing all
or part of the education.

7. Any additional learning needs that the child may
have and any additional learning provision that is
called for.

2020 SCHEDULE
Ref
Information to be included in the
database

1. The child’s name (including any former name).
2. As respect the child’s address or whereabouts—
(a) the child’s current address;
(b) if at any time there is no known current
address for the child, the child’s last known
address;
(c) a statement that there is no known address for
the child, or
(d) where the child has ceased to be ordinarily
resident in the local authority a statement that
the local authority—
(i) has information that the person intends to
return to the local authority area within 3
years from the date on which the
authority considers that the person ceased
to ordinarily resident;
(ii) has information that the person does not
intend to return to the local authority area
within a period of 3 years from the date
on which the local authority considers
that the person ceased to be ordinarily
resident; or
(iii) does not have any information as to
whether the person does or does not
intend to return to the local authority
area.

3. The child’s gender or if the person’s gender has
not been specified a statement about the effect.
4. The child’s date of birth.
5. Such number as is used to identify the child in the
database.

6. The name and contact details of any person with
parental responsibility for the child or who has care of
the child at any time.
7. Where the child is attending an educational
institution the name and contact details of the
institution, the date on which the child started
attending the institution and (where applicable) the
date of which the child ceased attending.
8. Where the child is receiving education otherwise
than at an educational institution, the name and contact
details of a person or body providing such education,
the date in which such education started and (where
applicable) the date on which attended.
9. Where the child has died the date of the child’s
death.