Minister’s Reply to Primary Online Database Complaint

Minister’s Reply to Primary Online Database Complaint

I received the following reply to my email complaint in relation to the Primary Online Database (POD). Link takes you to the full letter. The fundamental questions still remain unanswered. My comments are interspaced with text from the Ministers  letter On retention of data The current retention policy for Primary Online Database (POD) data is for records to be maintained for the longer of either the period up to the pupil’s 30th Birthday or for a period of ten years since the student was last enrolled in a primary school The Department’s retention policy is for audit and accounting purposes as pupil’s data is used in the allocation of teaching posts and funding to schools. The policy also serves to trace retention trends in the education system, is important for longitudinal research and policy formation, as well as being an important statistical indicator nationally and internationally. Aggregate and not individual data is used for the majority of these purposes This reads to me as “we’ll hold data until the kids are 30 even though we only need aggregate information for statistical purposes.” There is a clear conflict  in need between aggregate information, information for allocation of resources while children are in school and holding detailed information until the children are 30 (or possibly longer given we don’t know what processes will be in place to remove the information in 18 years time). On the racist nature of the cultural/ethnic categories We are committed to reviewing the questions asked in POD. As part of this we have reviewed our question in POD on the collection of information on Ethnic or Cultural Background. We feel that the question used...
Apples and Energy. Motivation and the Úll 5K.

Apples and Energy. Motivation and the Úll 5K.

Its not often that you can say a conference helped change your life. Especially a technology conference with no mind or body changing gurus in sight. Úll was that conference for me. So when Dermot Daly (the other Dermot) asked me to write a blog post for Úll about running a 5K for at last year’s conference I was only happy to write. He also mentioned the theme of this year’s conference is around the subject of motivation. The piece below is thoughts on motivation, running the 5K and Úll itself. Turns out this wasn’t quite what I started out to write. After two years of not going to Úll (and regretting it) last year I decided to go. At some point probably early in March I got an email saying that they were going to run a charity 5K at Úll. I was badly out of condition and badly overweight at the time, and hadn’t done any jogging, cycling, or proper exercise in quite a while. The initial thoughts were a mix of “bugger I’ll look silly if I don’t do it” and “If Dermot and Sasha are doing it sure I’d better give it a try” combined with “well it is for charity”. There were about 5 weeks to Úll when I started training. I downloaded a couple of Couch to 5K apps, picked one of them and started the program a couple of days later. After a couple of weeks, I bought a new pair of runners. By the time I got to Úll last year I was up to about 3K and was about 4 to 5 weeks into my...
Dept of Education and Primary Online Database

Dept of Education and Primary Online Database

What is the Department of Education up to with the Primary Online Database. Simon McGarr has a hypothesis Why is the Department of Education so determined the #POD database be established that it will threaten to defund children's education? — Simon McGarr (@Tupp_Ed) February 8, 2015 I'd have said it was blind institutional inertia. But then I read the papers on the site the Dept refers schools to re DP from the #POD site — Simon McGarr (@Tupp_Ed) February 8, 2015 Though it is always impossible to know the motivation of a gov Dept, my new theory fits all the available facts and explains #POD mysteries. — Simon McGarr (@Tupp_Ed) February 8, 2015 Dept of Ed plans to keep a database of sensitive personal data on school children goes back to at least 2008, per DPC http://t.co/euMEJTO5vO — Simon McGarr (@Tupp_Ed) February 8, 2015 2008 was the year Louise O'Keeffe lost her Supreme Court case to find the Dept liable for child abuse in school. Appealed to ECHR #POD — Simon McGarr (@Tupp_Ed) February 8, 2015 Some extracts from the Data Protection for Schools site written in consultation with the Dept and which they link to pic.twitter.com/Uz3wqw8dfv — Simon McGarr (@Tupp_Ed) February 8, 2015 That site advocates grossly excessive "indefinite" retention periods for sensitive data, obvs. pic.twitter.com/tuVnEfTjLW http://t.co/SWlu9LrPvu — Simon McGarr (@Tupp_Ed) February 8, 2015 Dept is also seeking to hold children's data indefinitely, per this circular. The 30yo piece is a smokescreen. #POD pic.twitter.com/9OCK8vxsOD — Simon McGarr (@Tupp_Ed) February 8, 2015 They're explicit: why hold kids records indefinitely? It is to use against them to defend abuse claims in...
The Emperor’s New Facts

The Emperor’s New Facts

“It ain’t so much the things we don’t know that get us into trouble, it’s the things we do know that just ain’t so.”  Artemus Ward We’re focussed on helping people improve their businesses in Near Future.  And we think a lot about how we might do that. A part of that involves improved thinking, and asking awkward questions.  I’ve found over time that most ideas are logically constructed and the best way to challenge ideas are to challenge the assumptions, the basis on which they’re built.  If the assumptions are wrong everything else falls apart. Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert L Sutton wrote a wonderful book on evidence based management a few years ago called “Hard Fact, Dangerous Half Truths & Total Nonsense” which poked holes in many of the modern Shibboleths of management. One of the myths that Sutton and Pfeffer explored in their books was on the nature of Financial Incentives. The evidence shows that incentives sometimes demotivate, sometimes motivate the wrong behaviour and often attract the wrong sort of talent. Even in the best of circumstance are damn hard to get right. Even a company as clever as Microsoft has managed to design disastrous incentive systems that it has now abandoned. We are planning a breakfast event in a few weeks in. It will be on the theme of what we know that isn’t true.  It is designed to break open a few management myths, the Emperors New Facts. The event will be invite only and we have a few open slots, email dermot  @nearfuture.io if you’d like to be included in this or future events that we might...