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back to article Government wants every English child on 'secure' database

The government will announce plans tomorrow to give every English child an identifying number and a database entry of their school qualifications. The idea, if that's not too strong a word, is that the database will include a mini-CV which employers will be able to check. Every child of 14 will get a Unique Learning Number, …

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Stop

So what's it for?

It'll cost £45million. And achieve what cost and efficiency savings*? People already have CVs that they send to prospective employers, and portfolois of qualifications and work examples. What is this database for?

*Yes, yes, I know, it's government p^hwork, so doesn't actually need a justification. Can't a body ask a rhetorical question these days?

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Well since the Child Benefit database has been lost,

what's the point in securing this one?

The coat with the two CDs in the pocket, please.

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No

Okay, stop. I'm not going to support this so I want you to give me back my portion of the forty-five million quid it's going to cost.

I won't comment on this government's record (?) on information security - that's an ongoing farce. I will comment on focus.

We've got an education service that doesn't (educate) in many cases. We've got kids leaving school who can't read, can't write (intelligibly), don't know who Winston Churchill was and couldn't find their own house on a map. We've got violence in school and kids being excluded from school. We've got teachers on the verge of a nervous breakdown. We've got plans for academies, we've got plans for comprehensives, we've got plans for magnet schools. We've got ever-changing standards on which kids are measured and we've got endless tests.

Typical of this government is that they think now is a good time to introduce............................a national learning database!

Can somebody please sit these people down and introduce them to reality?

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Silver badge

Secure database

Will be posted on an HD-DVD so no one will be able to read it.

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Paris Hilton

well..

spending money on a database means they won't have any left for education, which means they can keep the population bloody stupid, which means they'll stay in power for longer.

Add to that losing a few disks every few months, and probably doing what the dvla is doing and selling everyones driving details to whoever the hell wants it (without security checks) just to make more cash and you have a government who's bloody corrupt, couldn't give a shit about it's people and simply see's pound signs in their eyes.

bring on an election, though I'm sure the next group will be just as messed up. Another 10 years and we'll be curfued by 8pm and shot if seen in anything except an orange jump suit in public. Why not lock the borders and make england a prison - go on, you know you want to.

Paris, cause she'd probably do a better job running the country than the current group of idiots.

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Tim
Black Helicopters

Yet another back door attempt at the ID database

Learning Database today and sneakily gets turned into the central ID database tomorrow with other information linked in. How long before the US demands access to it and starts to vet entry on the basis of how many exams you passed?

Moral objections aside though, once again with these things my main problem with it is...

1) Why? Don't give me crap about it making life easier for employers. That's not why governments do things like this. Just seems like a job creation scheme and back door for the ID database.

2) Waste of tax payers money. We all know how gov IT projects overspend and screw up.

3) No trust at all in security. Disparate, decentralised databases may be more of a pain for people looking up information, but it's also a reason why they are more secure.

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3x2

Yet another

Database. You really have to wonder about these people. They are still trying to push through ID against increasing opposition. Do they stop and re-evaluate? No - just fire up yet another master plan.

Politicians please note - just because something is technically possible doesn't mean you have to do it.

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Joke

Great Idea

Put all the kids on a database and then lose it. No more gangs of teens hanging around. Sure beats trying to find a Pied Piper to stiff.

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Employers will be able to access it?

Companies masquerading as employers looking to hire will use it to target advertising and marketing campaigns at the little darlings.

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I am not a number...

I am a free...

oh, no I am not :(

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Flame

BLX

Looks like it is time to get the Guy Fawkes kit out and finish what he started all those years ago.

The flame - cos those idiots should be burnt at stakes

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Stop

Terrible idea...

...of no benefit, and great cost.

That 45 million would be better spent on education at pre-school level, to provide better facilities to encourage people to believe in education and educating ones self later in life, as they'll need it given the lack of facilities at higher levels.

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Anonymous Coward

Inevitable

Well if the terrorism bullshit won't wash with the public, then they've got to come up with something else haven't they?

I am amazed that there are still people out there who don't realise what the Government's REAL agenda is with regard to a national database / ID scheme.

It's not going to go away.

If protecting "kiddies" from paedo's won't justify it, then they'll try terrorism. If terrorism won't do it then they'll try immigration. If immigration won't do it they'll try employment or healthcare eligibility. If that won't work then they'll try tying it to some other emotive topical subject, but whatever it takes, the Government WILL get us all on that database, whether we like it or not.

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Use Bebo

There already is a place where pupils can show off their skills. It's called Bebo.

The problem is that to Ministers and Permanent Secretaries all IT is a database. They do not know of any other kind of information system. The idea of letting people communicate with the rest of the world in their own words is beyond them. They are not qualified to govern in the 21st century, and should be demoted until they have achieved a high score on World of Warcraft, or a high rating on a self-produced video.

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Coat

que the peasants are revolting

I wonder where we would be today if Guy Fawkes had been a revolutionist rather than a terrorist,

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Paris Hilton

Sloppy thinking.

This is not a National ID Database and never will be. The chances of it doing anything other than make a few mil for some IT consultants is pretty remote.

Even if it does actually get implemented and kept online for more than a year or two it does not include those who have already passed through the educational system. So how exactly are "we" all going to end up on it?

Do you think the assignment of a unique reference number to you is an ID database? Even looked at your NI number? DVLA number? Passport number? The list is almost endless. There are numerous databases that already hold more data about you than this half arsed attempt to solve a problem that doesn't exist.

There's plenty a surfeit of idiocy in this idea already, without adding to it.

PH Becasue frankly I'm beginning to suspect she's a clearer thinker that quite a few of the Reg's readers.

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RW
Black Helicopters

Inevitable?

So, Mr. Anonymous Coward "Inevitable", what *is* the government's REAL agenda wrt national db/ID scheme?

From where I sit (western Canada), it looks like a mixture of...

* a naive faith that such systems solve problems. What problems? No one knows. All that's offered is b.s.

* a bolshevist love of centralization and control for its own sake

* a touching faith that technological solutions will magically solve society's ills

* an inability to revise their thinking once they've latched onto an idea, no matter how stupid. I.E. they can't bring themselves to say "we are wrong."

* sheer bureaucratic love of pointless record keeping

* complete rejection of the concept of personal privacy

* last, but not least, the "eminence grise" effect: someone in the corridors of power has an idee fixee that a national ID is a good thing and this someone wields such power that he (she?) cannot be gainsaid. Here in Canada we have a situation like this, in our Customs ridiculous blocking of gay-themed media that are perfectly legal to own and sell within the country. Somewhere in the power structure lurks a serious homophobe. In Britain, perhaps you are afflicted with a single person (somewhere near the power center of NuLabour) who is a control freak.

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National Record of Acheivement Anyone ?

That worked really well didn't it ?

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Anonymous Coward

Adult learners

A central database may be new for children, but everyone attending an "Adult Education Class" ( ie Evening Class) run by a Local Authority will have all their personal details including attendance and performance passed to the Learning Skills Council . Apparently even if the subject was upholstery or Yoga.

see http://www.lsc.gov.uk.

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Anonymous Coward

SQA and UCAS

I can still remember my SQA and UCAS numbers (doubles up as Matric number at Uni).

The SQA number being issued to me when i was 13.

Exactly how the organisation in charge of Scottish Qualifications Authority (Previously SCOTVEC and SEB) holds student data I don't know but the Numbers must be stored somewhere.

While it may appear odd if I claimed on my CV that I had done CSYS Greek I doubt anyone would notice if I claimed i got a 1st in Computer Science at Uni, an A at CSYS Computer Studies and an A at higher Computing, such a lie for me (2.i, C and A) isn't likely to be noticed in an Interview, but coudl get me to that interview if the employer is only looking for those that have brilliant ability in exams.

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ID cards by the back door

So in one small step we squeeze ID cards in by the back door, because everyone's got a national learning number anyway.

>1000 Senior teacher's salaries for a year. Spend the money that way

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Unhappy

School reports stay with you your whole life?!

As you get older, more experienced, the education bit of your cv atrophies and drops off. Quite rightly. This seems to suggest that when you are 45 employers will be able to casually lookup the 'could do better' reports from when you were 10?!

How is that reasonable?

Why not take it further, at 65 looking for a pension - oh, shame you didn't make an effort at school...

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real agenda

"I am amazed that there are still people out there who don't realise what the Government's REAL agenda is with regard to a national database / ID scheme."

I haven't figured it out - what is it? They can get back pocket payments and directorships without the ID card, they can control all the tax I pay, I can't vote them in or out, they can raise their salary and remove themselves from freedom of information <rant cut short here>

You think they want an ID card that they know won't work, so they can.... what?

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Anonymous Coward

Secure Databases

The government are very good at developing and maintaining secure databases, just try hacking into a few of them, which is one reason it costs £45 Million to develop relatively simple systems.

But don't worry someone, sooner or later will send a DVD of the data in an access database to another agency, and we can all read that.

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Waste, waste, waste

In what way is this any kind of improvement on giving a child his/her GCSE certificates to prove to an employer that they have qualifications?

I've seen some bloody frivalous uses of IT initiated by this Government but this one seems to me to have been authorised simply as a way to piss a load of our tax money up the wall.

New Labour would try and computerise the building of sandcastles if it could find a contractor willing to take it on.

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Anonymous Coward

Umm, it's none of the above

You all seem to ignore the fact that what is really happening is that yet another consultancy has sold the government yet another lemon.

Not convinced? Who decides if such a daft idea is feasible? Not anyone in government because they don't have the skills. Not anyone with an ounce of ethics because they will say things a government official with an itching budget wants to hear. If you take ethics out you're left with politicians, lawyers and consultants. Politicians fall off because of the aforemention lack of knowledge, and lawyers don't write code. And guess who gets to develop the thing if it happens to be "feasible" (I use the word advisedly here)?

It is totally, blindly irrelevant what it is and what the proposed benefit is, as long as tax money (aka YOUR money) is wasted as fast as possible. The Blair misery^H^H^H^H^H^Hera is at an end, and they al need new jobs..

Now, that wasn't so hard, no?

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Anonymous Coward

"Protection of an individual's data will be given the highest priority"

Why is this lying bastard lying to me?

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Pat

Why a single database?

Why not just define a format standard and make it a local database? Could even be school-based. When a kid moves school, their record moves with them. Any central migration for auditing purposes could be anonymized, so the pencildicks who love that sort of thing can still play with Excel and talk about performance, and the risk of Spottineck losing the USB stick is limited to a single comp's worth of underachievers.

Anyway, no doubt encryption's the answer.

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Gates Halo

erm

Hate to be a wet blanket, but so long as they don't experience mission creep there's very little wrong with this as an idea. Educational establishments are often asked to provide proof that a candidate got what he/she says they got, clearly most of this is done as decentralised chaos with lots of overlapping systems and duplicated functions and they probably waste lots of money.

So long as they keep it simple it'll be fine, but since when did government IT projects keep it simple?

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Below the Radar

I guess having a child who is not registered with the local authority for education is a good thing at this point. At least until they tie up the child benefit and tax credit databases with the new one. While it's not for everyone, home education definitely has its benefits.

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Coat

err there is already one planned bigger than this for children

Its called ContactPoint - it is designed to hold every child from 0-18 with unique ids in it.

http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/deliveringservices/contactpoint/about/

"Information held on ContactPoint

ContactPoint will only hold the following basic information for all children in England (up until their 18th birthday)

* Name, address, gender, date of birth and a unique identifying number.

* Name and contact details for a child's parent or carer.

* Contact details for services working with a child: as a minimum, educational setting (e.g. school) and GP practice, but also other services where appropriate.

* A means to indicate whether a practitioner is a lead professional and if they have undertaken an assessment under the Common Assessment Framework.

Those providing a sensitive service (those in the fields of sexual health, mental health and substance abuse) will be required to seek informed, explicit consent before recording their contact details on ContactPoint. Where they are recorded, only an indication of an unspecified service would be visible.

Informed, explicit consent will also be required for care leavers or those with learning difficulties to remain on ContactPoint up to age 25, to facilitate the transition to adult services.

ContactPoint will not hold:

* any assessment or case information

* details such as birth weight, exam results, medical records, or diet

* subjective information about a child or their parent

The information that can be held on ContactPoint is limited by law as provided by Section 12 of the Children Act 2004 and the supporting Regulations"

Someone might like to talk over the cabinet office table...

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@RW

***"In Britain, perhaps you are afflicted with a single person (somewhere near the power center of NuLabour) who is a control freak."***

A bit like saying that, perhaps, somewhere in a field of cabbages there is, just possibly, a cabbage.

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Coat

Individual Learning Accounts

Possibly a portent for things to come. The ILA scheme was abolished after massive fraud, partly because of terrible implementation of security.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/1617777.stm

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2001/10/25/government_shuts_down_it_learning/

On the "we must have a database" culture, I think it would be a good idea to put in a freedom of information act request to at least try to find out who it is that wants all these databases. It sounds like some kind of lobbying firm trying to push something that can never work combined with ministers who think an overpriced and overengineered set of MS Access forms is somehow the future. Icon showing the emperor just as someone points out that he has no clothes.

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Dead Vulture

45 Million?

For a database?

What about putting this out to open tender (EDS need not apply).

I'll do it for 5 million and in under a month. I'll even throw in the hardware for free.

45 million. For a database.

Sheesh!

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Anonymous Coward

How many organisations

So what hoops are employers going to have to jump through to get access to the data?

My guess is that most of the enquiries are going to come from large companies, and most of those companies will be the national temp agencies.

This isn't about ID card substitutes, it's about taking the government out of the business of finding jobs for the unemployed. Which will make it hard for anyone to discover just how many jobs are available. Look, see the fiddling with statistics...

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Paris Hilton

Why?

Why do employers need information on what I did in school as a 14 year-old?

They could just ask for my O-Level/A-Level/Degree certificate. I'm not sure why the taxpayer should foot the bill to make checking this information cheaper for employers. If employers can't tell if a new employee has the ability to do their job within the traditional 3 months probation, then I would hazard a guess that a database of exam results will not help their business survive anyway.

And £45m? How about a Ruby/Rails/MySQL system for each school. Or a spreadsheet even. It could be finished by tomorrow afternoon and students transferring between schools could take a *gasp* printout. If the data is slightly inaccurate, does it really matter that much?

If I was more cynical, I might think the only reason for this sort of project is to give a bit of cash to one of the large IT companies. Oh wait, I am that cynical.

Paris, because she is much brighter and so much less irritating than the government.

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i hope

they hack it right at the beginning and i hope they hack it really frequently. the reasons should be obvious.

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WTF

OK whats with the UK's gov obsession with data bases ?? In 2020 I'm expecting every person in the UK to be chipped , bar coded ans have GPS tracking device implanted up their ass.

hell but the US wont be to much better. They will monitor all TV's , you net will be filtered and monitored along with your phone. The moment you say any thing bad about the gov you will be taken out and publicly executed in the town square .

Yes thats my coat. The lead lined one with the tin foil fedora on the rack.

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Anonymous Coward

'Secure'

As in - your average 14 year old cannot hack in and alter the records.

Some hope.

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Access

So the access will be given to potential employers? But in a free economy everyone is a potential employer, so that means that everyone will have access to the database about everyone. So how is that secure?

Or does that mean that you have to be a special kind of potential employer, perhaps particularly close to one or another NuLabour minister or making especially generous contributions or loans to their election campaigns? Are they planning to rename the UK to USSR, maybe?

This Govt needs to be urgently sent to a mental institution for therapy and counseling.

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Coat

@que the peasants are revolting

Yes they are pretty disgusting!

>>wonder where we would be today if Guy Fawkes had been a revolutionist rather than a terrorist<<

Actually, the two terms are interchangeable; it is merely a matter of perspective and generally depends on who wins.

"Whoever wins, writes the history books". (and then Hollywod re-writes them!)

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Coat

Someon PLEASE hit them with the Clue Stick

The job of Government is to get the **** out of my face and let me get on with my life without having to be pushed, processed, filed, stamped, filtered, indexed, briefed, tracked, debriefed, Dolbyised, numbered or squeezed through a muslin bag. In return I'll pay my taxes for schools and hospitals and policemen in tall hats and jumpers for goalp- (You're fired - Ed.)

Coat as soon as I can find a country not run by control freaks with an over-inflated sense of destiny.

Bah!

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Re: Access

"But in a free economy everyone is a potential employer, so that means that everyone will have access to the database about everyone."

Indeed. Let me save my government a few million in consultancy fees by airing the following architectural proposal. Instead of a complicated system of one-time passwords for limited access, let anyone submit queries of a restricted form for a tenner a go. The restricted form I have in mind is "Are <claimed qualifications> consistent with the actual achievements of <person>?". The computer then delivers a boolean response.

In the absence of absurdly high levels of spending, the data hardly leaks at all. If someone wants to trawl the database, they can bloody well pay for the privilege.

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What about Cromwell?

Regicide, terrorist acts against the lawful governance, private army. Sounds like a terrorist to me.

I say that, in order to remove any reason for terrorism, that we undo any changes enacted because of a terror threat.

In this case, parliament needs to be knocked back into a minor role in governing the county.

By this means, people can see that there is no hope for terrorism to enact any lasting change and so its' use will be worthless.

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Anonymous Coward

ILR

Every kid has one. Some have many depending on how many institutions they have been through.

You are on loads of databases in many organisations. Did you think your college/school would be different ? Some of the comments here are just stupidity in motion.

What parliament has to do with this is uncertain .. Mark ? What are you blathering about ? You think we should go back to keeping grade marks and learning information on pieces of paper ??

WTF people, please think !

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Anonymous Coward

Re 'Secure'

Actually, your average 14 year old nowadays couldn't hack a database with an axe... due to the low qualitiy of learning nowadays. Not that your average 14 year old actually knows, or indeed cares, about this database...

Regarding the actual database... yeah, it's just another back door system to a national ID card. Just like the DVLA is a national system simaler to a national ID card (if it isn't, then why the hell is it always on the list of acceptable forms of ID?). And, strangely enough, the national Medical database (which is accessable by oh so many people) contains far more information that you wouldn't want people to access than this one will.

Oh, and by the time you've been on the workforce for more than five minuites, no-one really cares what you got at school anyway.

No icon because there isn't a "meh" one.

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Coat

Oh dear.

A database where employers can look up a prospective employee qualifications and education history.

I know its Friday afternoon and I have a long hard week of "Use Case Avoidance". But this actually sounds quite sensible the only eyebrow raising feature is the 45 mill cost rather than the 45K it would cost in hte private sector.

A classic Arthur Daley sheepskip

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Unhappy

Their FAQ page..

...doesn't mention if it is possible to completely opt out. (Why not? Because they don't want the question asked?)

And there is no mention of safeguards following the loss of Child Benefit records, medical records, DVLA records... Come to think of it, is there a government database they *haven't* lost data from?

My suggestion: overload the 'contact us' linkon their site with these queries.

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Not that bad idea in principle...

but only as long as we remain in charge of who can see our data, not Government or random companies claiming to have received an application from us.

Having a central database which can validate your qualifications is useful but I just don't trust the Government to implement it properly. They will most likely be the ones who decide who can see our data and will probably lose it anyway. Or send it un-encrypted over the net so that the DRM packet sniffers can pick up all the data. :op

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Whats it for 2?

I agree with Anonymous Coward, whats it for?

Either the goverment can't help but waste money, especially if it's an IT project. Or erm, think...

Ah well with all the grade inflations over the years maybe everyone's grade will increase year on year to keep it fair.

I'm sure if I did my GCSEs now I would get all As so please sign me up. I want to look cleaverer ;)

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