My girlfriend is currently studying for a PGCE to become a high school teacher. For one of her lectures they discussed the use of data and resources available to schools to track their pupils progression and for predicting their likely grades.

The Fischer Family Trust were brought up as an organisation that stored information about pupils exam results from the begging of their time at primary school right through to leaving 6th form. Teachers have access to this data which allows them to see how their school compares to other schools throughout the UK based on numerous criteria ranging from population statistcs, unemployment and such things. They can also see what the pupil is likely to achive in their GCSEs and A-Levels based on the data held. Apparently the Fischer Family Trust has developed predicition algorithms that have a very high percentage of correctly guessing the grades.

With the close of the lecture the students were told that they would not be able to get access to this data unless they worked at a school. I took issue with the statement when I was told as I said surely under the data protection act it is within my right to obtain any information held about myself by any company to this I was told no I couldn’t and so the challange began.

Individuals have a right of access to the information held about them, subject to certain exceptions (for example, information held for the prevention or detection of crime).

I headed over to the Fischer Family Trust website and found a contact us page. Filling in my details I wrote a curtious email enquiring into the availabilty of my data. A few days later I received a response:

Thank you for your email making a subject access request for information held by
Fischer Education Project.

So that we can process your request we would ask you to complete and return the
attached Subject Access Request Form.

We charge a £10 fee for responding to Data Protection requests.  Cheques should be
made payable to the “Fischer Education Project Ltd”.  Please note that we cannot
process your request until we have received the fee.  Subject access requests will
be processed within 40 days of receipt of completed form and payment of the fee.

Please note that Fischer Education Project can only provide information for whom we
are Data Controllers i.e. FFT estimates and value added reports.  The Department for
Children Schools and Families (DCSF) are data controllers for the census returns and
examination/Test results – Fischer Education Project are only Data Processors.  Any
Subject Access Request for census or examination/test results would need to be made
to DCSF. 

Now that sounds to me like for £10 I can have any data about myself which contradicts what was taught at the University.