Saturday, February 23, 2008

Connexions and Home Education

The home education community has recently been re-alerted to the fact that personal advisors (PAs) from the government's Connexions Careers Advice Service for teens aged 13 - 18 are cold-calling home educating families in what looks like an attempt to conscript HEKs into the system.

This is not innocuous. From the invaluable Database Masterclass:

"Every young person is allocated a ‘personal adviser’ (PA) who brokers access to services, and is responsible for carrying out an in-depth personal assessment of the young person. This assessment process is known as APIR (Assessment, Planning, Implementation and Review) and covers every area of the young person’s life, including information about parents, family and friends. "

Yep, that really means every area of a young person's life: health, income, family relationships, mental health, emotional health, you name it. And guess where all this highly personal information gets stored? Yep, you got it: yet another database, this time the Connexions Customer Information System (CCIS).

It has also emerged that some local authorities have nominated a Connexions worker to actively seek out those teens who are not obviously within the system, so HEKs are very likely to be in their sights.

PAs are meant to garner consent before starting out on this whole redundant yet dangerous process, but once a teen has given that consent, it looks pretty damn difficult to withdraw it, so plenty of HE parents will be making absolutely certain that their teens have imbibed the message that they shouldn't give out personal information to a complete stranger on the doorstep or over the telephone, so they also shouldn't do it simply because someone says they are from the government.


Anonymous said...

What do you think would make a teen give consent? It seems unlikely that the average teen would want a prying adult on their backs.

Maybe they intend to bribe them with something...


Carlotta said...

I guess in simply confirming one's existence, as one easily might do on the end of a phone or to someone at the front door, one is already giving away information which one might not want to give away. Apparently Connexions has a right to this much info on all school pupils whether a family gives their consent or not, so they wouldn't even need consent to confirm and record this much.

Plus, if a PA is wheedly enough, nice enough, goodness knows what one might say. I strongly suspect that Connexions PAs have got very proficient at wheedling information out of people simply as a way of justifying their jobs, as I suspect that Connexions remains very underused and over-resourced. Another fine waste of money.

Anonymous said...

A perfect opportunity for HE parents to start a discussion about government, data protection, identity theft, civil rights etc.

Leo said...

How is that even legal?

Carlotta said...

RE: Issues around Consent

I agree it looks quite extraordinarily disempowering. The Learning and Skills Act appears to infringe civil liberties in an extraordinary way. In the practice of medicine, one has to seek consent for every action, but this very sound principle seems to have been
over-ridden very quietly in the persistent march towards the surveillance society.

"From ARCH's Database Masterclass again:

Each local Connexions service aims to collect information about everyone aged 13-19 in their area, and this is held on the Connexions Customer Information System (CCIS). Consent is normally sought before information is stored or shared with other agencies, but the consent can be a ‘one-off’ to grant all agencies access to the electronic record until such future time as consent is withdrawn. In other words: the consent need not be limited to a specific time, place or piece of information and the young person cannot refine the consent to specify which of the agencies listed above may or may not have access to specific information. The government confirms this in the final para of a PWA."

dawny said...

OMG Carlotta the world gets worse - doh rolling of eyes and cursing . . . .