Under the terms of the new expanded census, schools are, for the first time, asking parents to say where their child was born.
And while disclosure is not compulsory there have been reports of schools asking for copies of pupils’ passports with critics fearing that the data could be used by the Home Office to inform immigration enforcement.
Greg Mulholland, the Liberal Democrat MP for Leeds North West, called on Education Secretary Justine Greening to scrap the data push as he grilled her during education questions.
He said: “I commend the Secretary of State for announcing or perhaps forcing the U-turn on the nasty policy of employers naming foreign employees.
“Will you now give us another U-turn and announce that schools do not need to ask parents to provide birth certificates, thus potentially turning schools into immigration offices?”
But Ms Greening defended the policy as she insisted nationality data would help tailor the allocation of resources.
She said: “This is again about making sure that we have the right data and evidence in order to develop strong policy.
“I think that’s quite sensible as an approach to take but it is important that we respond to some of the concerns of schools that see often additional numbers of pupils related to migration and we need to have a better sense of the stresses and strains so that we can target resourcing effectively.”