You may scoff, but under plans unveiled by the UK Government on February 13, 2008 in the upcoming Education and Skills Bill 2008, this WILL go down on your permanent record.
Not content with Britain being rock bottom of Privacy International's Europe-wide rankings in terms of protection of personal privacy - and only just coming above Russia and China in that respect on the worldwide rankings - the aforementioned proposal, along with increasing the compulsory school leaving age from 16 to 18, has plans to give each pupil in Britain a ULN, or Unique Learner Number, as part of the Blair/Brown era's fetish for "joined up government" as they call it. This ULN will allow access to a variety of records on your education, achievements, qualifications, and other such stuff. The idea being that when they enter the job market, an employer can ask for your ULN to access the database with and with which they can confirm that you have the qualifications you say you have. And from what I've gathered, it's this aspect of it that seems to be the rationale for MIAP, or "Managing Information Across Partners" as the whole scheme is called. But, as always, and especially with this liberticidal and mendacious chimera that we call New Labour, there's other plans as well. Plans to share this information with social services, the NHS, and suchlike.
"But hang on," I hear you cry. "Don't they already have specific numbering for each pupil? What's the big deal?"
Good question. The big deal is that currently, once someone leaves school, their pupil numbers and records are destroyed, and secondly, the cases in which such information can be shared are fairly tightly regulated. Not so under these plans. Seemingly in accordance with the Nu-Lab mantra of "lifelong learning," your records will, should MIAP be implemented, follow you around like a jealous lover. And as a side effect of this, they will be shared with social services and the like while they are thus stalking you. And since the data will be shared with social services, undoubtedly there'll be records of incidents and things you got into that might have "red-flagged" you for the involvement of those worthies (that's when they're not turning a blind eye to the most horrific child abuse for fear of being accused of racism or cultural imperialism, that is.) While this may seem innocuous, I for one doubt it will be. For instance, you or your child's appearance on the Social Services radar because at age 15 they went through a spell in which they would repeatedly carve a map of the Paris metro into their forearms might, despite their having got out of such psychiatric difficulties, be used as a pretext for meddling later in life. Are we not to be reminded of the case, in 2007, in which Social Services promised to take one woman's child into care at its birth because 20 years ago the mother attempted suicide, even though she hadn't suffered from depression at all since then? And who's to say that Social Services won't, in certain circumstances, pass this information on them along to the police or the tax man? They have already admitted that this database would be used to "track" children between the ages of 16 and 18... what prevents them from using it to track people in their adult life as well? Not to mention the possibility of data mining for other purposes...
All these questions deserve very serious consideration, in my view. The whole point of destroying pupil records upon leaving school seems to be to allow students to make a clean break, so to speak. In destroying the records, not only are the skeletons in the student's closet buried, but also, it helps prevent employers from taking the student's character unfairly into account, so that job-hunters are judged on the strengths of their applications alone. To this end it helps work against workplace discrimination as well, arguably. Indeed, in Germany, the protection of minors' privacy in this regard is taken particularly seriously. There, it is unlawful for a teacher in a secondary school to look at the primary school records of one of their pupils, and similar clean sheets are drawn at the end of secondary school.
Now the attentive reader may notice that these plans were being chewed over during the early rumblings of the National Identity Register issue in 2003. Indeed, one of their aspects was, back then, to tie the MIAP database in with the ID card scheme. However, this was scrapped due to a general worry that it would, in effect, force school leavers into ID cards. Indeed, with the ongoing resistance to the ID scheme in Britain and its criticism (quite rightly) as an overintrusive, pointless, expensive, and insecure white elephant, a particularly cynical part of me thinks that this may well be an attempt to try and force ID cards on the public by the back door if eventually the ID scheme is killed off by a potential future Government; it would keep the most objectionable part of the NIR while at the same time dispensing with a physical card, so to speak.
"Oh, but the innocent have nothing to fear, surely?" I hear you cry once more. In which case, I don't suppose you'd mind telling me all about your little episodes of teenage silliness, then. About the time you were caught smoking a quiet spliff behind the bike sheds, or about your wrangle with anorexia aged fifteen, or other such unpleasantnesses that you'd rather people didn't know about. Or how much you earnt last month, both before and after tax. And besides, given this Government's recent track record on keeping peoples' information secure, who's to say that a pair of CD-Rs with all this on won't suddenly appear in the post-bag of some bloke in Yekaterinburg out of the blue?
To be perfectly frank, it's news like this that makes me consider emigrating. It also makes me wonder when Golden Brown, Harriet Hormones, Jackboots Straw and the like are just going to cut the crap and forcibly barcode-tattoo everyone at birth. It seems that that's what they really want to.
(Source: Times Online, at http://timesonline-emails.co.uk/go.asp?/bTNL001/mMJWDM8/qVA5DM8/uINQ07/xZRUNM8)