Kirsty Williams, Minister for Education
I am pleased today to be launching a consultation to seek views on the draft Children Act 2004 Education Database (Wales) Regulations 2020 and draft Education (Information about Children in Independent Schools) (Wales) Regulations 2020.
The national strategy – “Prosperity for All” – recognises that a child’s educational journey should be one of the most enriching and rewarding times of their life and provide them with the knowledge and skills to fulfil their potential.
Every child has a fundamental right to an education. The Welsh Government respects the decision by some parents to educate their children at home, but this must be balanced with the absolute right of children to receive a suitable education. The Welsh Government remains committed to ensuring that every child in Wales receives a suitable education be it in school or at home.
These proposals use existing powers found in section 29 of the Children Act 2004 to require local authorities to establish a database of all compulsory school age children, which will include those who are not on any education register. The regulations will also place a duty on local health boards to disclose a minimal amount of non–clinical information to populate the database. In addition independent schools will be required to share minimal information about students registered at their establishments with the local authority. These powers will enable local authorities to compile a database of children not on any education register to assist them in identifying children who are not receiving a suitable education.
You will be aware from the Statement I issued on 11 December that a significant number of responses to the consultation on the draft guidance highlighted concerns from home educators around data protection and human rights.
We are taking time to consider these concerns and, in the meantime, we have provided additional clarity regarding concerns about data protection and human rights implications of the database regulations.
This consultation provides everyone with an interest in home education to have an opportunity to have their say to help us further develop and refine our proposals and continue to address any concerns going forward. We will be running a number of consultation workshops across Wales. This will include workshops specifically for children and young people to ensure that their right to be heard under Article 12 of the UN Convention on Rights of the Child is upheld.
I look forward to receiving stakeholder views on the draft regulations, and I want to assure respondents that the Welsh Government will take the time to give due consideration to each and every response received during both consultations.