They're watching you!

16th February 2007 at 00:00
Big Brother DfES wants teachers' personal details, even sickdays, for database

TEACHERS' PERSONAL details, including ethnicity, absence records, qualifications, pay, hours worked and subjects taught are to be recorded in a central database.

Department for Education and Skills officials say it will "help form strategies for minimising sickness absence levels" and help them to monitor workforce reform and subject shortages.

But Mary Bousted, general secretary, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, has accused the Government of acting like George Orwell's Big Brother. She said: "I can see why the DfES want a certain level of information around who is teaching and what subjects are being taught in the curriculum, but absences are a matter for the employer which is the school.

"There has been no debate on this and it is a real concern not just for bureaucratic reasons, but on who holds information about individuals."

The database should make it possible to monitor whether new teaching and learning and responsibility payments are fair to ethnic minority teachers, something the NUT has been campaigning for. No one from the union was available to comment.

The DfES acknowledged that primary schools are concerned about the burden involved in compiling the information. Some were also reluctant to collect data about their staff's ethnicity.

The information will give officials detailed, individualised data on teachers and support staff that it already has in its pupils' tracker. The workforce census will be piloted in 34 local authorities next January.

Other details to be collected are dates of birth, country of origin, type of contract and additional payment.

The Department said it had no plans to link the database with the results of exams and teacher performance management reviews to create a teacher tracker system.

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