Department throws in the towel on a compulsory POD

As longstanding, longsuffering readers will be aware, for the past year and a bit, I have been arguing that the Primary Online Database (POD) was illegal.

Though that argument has not come to a conclusion (and I expect it to be successful) the Department of Education has been forced into a series of climbdowns along the way.

Now, I have learned from a Freedom of Information request that since 29th February 2016 the Department has permanently given up on its threat to defund the education of children whose parents didn’t consent to their data being hoovered up into the POD.

They just haven’t told the schools collecting the data yet, because they don’t want to.

In a letter to the Data Protection Commissioner’s office on foot of a complaint I had made, the Department made the following through-gritted-teeth acceptance that POD couldn’t be compulsory.

In advance of the beginning of the 2016/2017 academic year a circular will be issued with updated information on how POD will operate, including confirmation that partial records may still be created for any students whose parents have an objection to POD. The Department feels that allowing partial records to be created is a fair compromise for parents with such objections, as it protects the anonymity of the pupil while ensuring that school data is accurate for funding purposes. There is no risk of schools losing funding as a result of parents refusing consent to put their children’t data on POD.

How things change. Here’s the Minister of Education’s office in 2015 threatening that children’s educations would be defunded, if they didn’t comply.

Minister threat

Now, this letter was sent to the Data Protection Commissioner’s office. But, despite the decision having been made, schools haven’t been told about the policy change and so will still be seeking compliance with POD with the threat of defunding still active.

So, perhaps we should send our schools a copy of the Department’s letter, letting them know what the Department is so slow to admit.

You can find a handy emailable copy of the full letter below.

FOI Letter From Dept of Education Re POD


  • Ing says:

    What’s the reason for collecting data’s of the vulnerable innocent children in the name of funding.
    Money is changing the way of living into extinction.
    No peoper food, books, education etc But very particular about collecting datas for money.

  • parent says:

    awesome, government won’t know which schools to invest in without data to do longitudinal studies. congratz. sick of mindless paranoia.

  • Informed Parent says:

    I’m sure all necessary & relevant data can be collected anonymously, and can be sent from the school already anonymised?

    I don’t see any reason for names, addresses and other personal data.

    I for one, have never consented to my children’s private data being collected or stored in such a database.
    I have not been approached for access to such data, nor have I been informed as to collection, purposes for collection, methods and duration of storage, portability etc.

    I will be forwarding this article to both schools my children attend (do not wish to sign up for scribus)

    Thanks for your determined & persistant work TuppEd

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