ID cards and schools

You will need an ID card to enrol your children in a state school? Or you won't? Which is it?

When he was still Secretary of State for Education, Charles Clarke gave evidence to the Home Affairs Committee's investigation into the Identity Cards Bill.

He submitted written evidence in February 2004:

"Education legislation does not impose any conditions relating to the nationality or immigration status of children seeking entry to a maintained school. So, questions of proving entitlement to schooling are irrelevant".

At an oral session, he was asked whether there was any connection between immigration status and the right to state school education. His answer was, in brief, no. There would be no need to present an ID card to get state school education. In full:

"There is an issue, it is an important matter of policy and it is part of an ongoing dialogue about how we deal with migration to this country ... I do not believe that the ID cards debate has any locus in that precise discussion ... I myself do not see any likelihood of a change in the status arrangements that we are describing in this area and the current law of the land which says that we have a legal obligation to educate all children of the appropriate age within our education system as one which I think is the correct legal status and we have no plans of any kind to revisit that. That is not to say that the debate cannot proceed in these matters in all areas, but that is not in any way a part of our approach on ID cards, which, apart from general support for the principle which I personally have, I think is the right approach and it has some specific practical advantages for the education service in the areas which I identify" (27 April, 2004 – Q537).

Two-and-a-half years later, in October 2006, with the Bill passed in the interim, the Home Office published its first cost report, which includes the following:

"Tackling illegal migration: By providing a standard, secure way for people to prove their identity when accessing services (e.g. registering with a GP, applying for benefits, a national insurance number or a bank loan, or enrolling children in school) it will be much harder for people here illegally to carry out their daily business if they have no right to be in the UK. This is because people will (a) need to have their identity registered and (b) their record will show what status or right they have to be in the UK" (p.5).


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